Prep column: Harbor hoops hoopla

Barry Faulkner

NEWPORT BEACH - After her team defeated visiting Aliso Niguel,

46-44, Thursday, snapping the Newport Harbor High girls basketball team's

20-game Sea View League losing streak, first-year Sailors coach Jen

Thompson's first reaction was to cringe.

She was, of course, elated about her girls rejoicing over the

momentous victory, which avenged a 52-36 first-round setback to the

Wolverines. But, having played on successful teams at Culver City High

and Cal Poly Pomona, and then coached two years at Woodbridge High, a

wild scene at midcourt following any regular-season victory was enough to

tweak her sense of proper decorum.

"The way our team reacted, was not typical and I usually wouldn't like

them to do that," Thompson said. "I think for some girls it was kind of

like 'Wow, we won state!' But, hey, after what our girls have been

through, I wasn't about to tell them to stop (celebrating). For some

girls, it was the first varsity league game they've won."

Thompson said the entire bench ran out to share embraces and high

fives with teammates on the court following Thursday's final buzzer. The

euphoria also carried over to Friday, when the team was saluted with a

big announcement in the daily bulletin broadcast. The players were also

showered with praise from their peers and Thompson, a social science

teacher at Harbor, was congratulated by many of her fellow teachers and

coaches.

The good vibrations continued at Friday afternoon's practice, where

Thompson said the team talked about the triumph and had some laughs.

Thompson hopes the residue from Thursday's win linger well into the

near future, as her young team (four-year varsity performer Evita

Castillo is the lone senior) parlays its bolstered confidence into at

least one more league win. She also hopes it will trigger a voracious

offseason appetite for success next year.

"(The win) proved to the girls that they can do this," Thompson said.

"This league is tough, but we have a chance."

The Sailors (4-17, 1-4 in league) visit Irvine tonight and host Laguna

Hills Thursday with renewed expectations.

"These are definitely winnable games," Thompson said. "The girls know

that."

Thompson said such unspoken bravado was apparent before the Aliso

game.

"Our girls were ready to play Thursday," she said. "They did things

I've never seen them do before. Even the Aliso coach (Ken Nedler)

commented before the game about how pumped up our girls looked."

Thompson said there have been some down days during this season of

struggle, but she credits her girls' persistent effort and resilience for

Thursday's vindication.

"We're finally gelling," Thompson said. "We're playing really tough

right now."

The Corona del Mar High boys basketball team broke out of its Pacific

Coast League doldrums with a convincing 71-50 triumph at Laguna Beach

Friday, its first league win of the season.

First-year coach Ryan Curry said defensive intensity was the key. He

also said some new defensive wrinkles, including a full-court press, paid

dividends.

Curry has stopped at nothing to try to inspire his players, as well as

support from the student body for his team (5-18, 1-5).

"I've led cheers and even danced at pep rallies," Curry said. "I

haven't been afraid to embarrass myself."

Should the Sea View League-leading Newport Harbor boys basketball team

wrap up its first league title since 1990, it would mark only the second

time in school history that the Sailors claimed league crowns in

basketball and football in the same school year.

Since the Tars began fielding varsity football teams in 1931, only the

1984 football team and the 1984-85 basketball team have won league titles

in the same school year.

Should Coach Larry Hirst's Sailors hold off Woodbridge for the

outright crown, it would be the first time football and basketball would

have gained sole possession of first place in the same school year.

The Sailors were co-champions in Sea View football in '84.

Sage Hill High boys basketball coach Gordon McNeill was especially

pleased by his team's 44-42 Academy League win Jan. 22 over Brethren

Christian. The reason? It allowed him to "show off" for his former mentor

in attendance, Paul Orris, for whom he was a varsity assistant a Corona

del Mar before Orris stepped down after last season.

"I told Paul before the game that we'd rub some sweat on (Brethren)

for him," McNeill said.

Aabria Lipscomb, a promising 6-foot-2 junior center for the Northwood

High girls basketball team, is the of daughter O.J. Lipscomb, who coached

lower-level girls basketball at Newport Harbor in the mid-1990s.

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