Boys basketball: First place at stake

Barry Faulkner

NEWPORT BEACH - After one blowout and nearly blowing two games to

heavy underdogs in three Sea View League contests, the Newport Harbor

High boys basketball team is hoping to blow out the candles on Woodbridge

High's sweet 16-game Sea View winning streak tonight at 7 in the Sailors'

gym.

Newport Coach Larry Hirst said his players have longed for the chance

to end Woodbridge's reign atop the league, as well as the Tars' four-year

streak of second-place finishes, ever since last season ended.

Such focus on the future might have had something to do with a

one-point scare at Aliso Niguel (Jan. 9), as well as Wednesday's 43-40

come-from-behind triumph at Laguna Hills, finalized by a Greg Perrine

three-pointer with one second left.

But the future is now for the Sailors (15-5, 3-0 in league), ranked

No. 8 in Orange County and No. 9 in CIF Southern Section Division II-AA.

Woodbridge (13-6, 2-0) is ranked No. 6 in Orange County and tied for

No. 10 in CIF II-AA. Coach John Halagan's Warriors have had all week to

prepare for the Tars, after dropping a nonleague game to Northwood

Saturday.

The Warriors have defeated Newport three straight times, by an average

margin of 15 points, after the Tars earned a 59-57 overtime triumph in

the first round of the 2000 league campaign.

Hirst is hoping home-court advantage will come into play. The Sailors,

on a four-game winning streak, have won 7 of 8 at home this year,

including an 87-47 romp over Irvine Jan. 11.

The Sailors are led by seniors Tony Melum, an All-CIF performer last

year, Perrine, an All-Sea View and All-Newport-Mesa District returner,

and two-year starter Erik Peterson.

Woodbridge has been paced by senior all-league returner Patrick

Hadden, but he missed the Northwood game with a sprained ankle and his

status for tonight is uncertain.

The Warriors also include 6-foot-10 sophomore David Burgess.

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