Daily Pilot High School Athlete of the Week:

By all reports, Coleen Mead figures to get her chance to play college basketball. And, if recent history is any indication, she is likely to make that shot count.

The Newport Harbor High senior completed her prep career Thursday night, when the Sailors fell, 58-41, at North Torrance in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division III-AA playoffs. But in her final two regular-season games, she displayed the kind of long-range shooting ability that might help her catch on at the next level.

Mead made nine combined three-pointers in league setbacks against Edison (Feb. 11) and Marina (Feb. 9). She scored a team-best 16 points in both games and shot 60% from three-point range in the two combined contests.

The late-season surge has to do with some increased focus on her game, she said.

“I’ve been working on my shot with a personal coach for about the last eight to 10 weeks,” said the 5-foot-6 Mead, who decided to step up her commitment to get a jump on playing collegiately.

She took a recruiting visit to Humboldt State last weekend and has been invited to try out for the team in the spring. She is also talking to coaches at Irvine Valley Community College.

“I saw the clock ticking and I knew I wanted to get better,” Mead said of her one-hour Sunday morning sessions with Walt Simon, an assistant men’s coach at Vanguard University who was twice the state player of the year at Fullerton College and later played at the University of Utah. “I wanted to play college ball potentially, and I wanted to do anything I could to make that happen. Since I’ve been working with Walt, I’ve seen a dramatic improvement.”

Newport Harbor Coach Justin Long said he has also noticed progress in Mead’s game.

“Her shooting has been on and her ball handling has been better,” Long said.

Mead began playing basketball in seventh grade and, after competing in cross country and track and field her freshman year at Newport, decided to make basketball her sole athletic focus.

“I still run on my own, but I love basketball,” she said.

Mead had a three-year varsity career for the Sailors (9-18), playing both point guard and shooting guard. She averaged 5.3 points, a team-best 3.4 assists and 2.0 steals in her final regular season and was a team co-captain.

“She definitely has a good three-point shot, but she doesn’t rely on it,” Long said of the Daily Pilot Athlete of the Week, who made 29 three-pointers in the regular season. “She leads by example and she is a very fierce competitor.”

Mead said earning an at-large berth to the playoffs was a great accomplishment. It’s the first postseason appearance for the Tars in at least four seasons.

“We all set the goal of making CIF,” she said. “We all stepped up and made it happen.”

Mead, who has not decided on her collegiate home, said she plans to major in education. She wants to be a teacher and basketball coach.

“I love playing basketball, so I want to stay around the game after college,” said Mead, a long-range shooter with a clearly defined long-range plan.

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