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High School Male Athlete of the Week: Robbie Spooner thrives as captain for Newport Harbor basketball

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Senior small forward Robbie Spooner leads the Newport Harbor High boys’ basketball team in scoring with 14 points per game.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Robbie Spooner has diversified his game as a senior for the Newport Harbor High boys’ basketball team.

Still, the forward very much finds himself at home behind the three-point line.

The green light is there for Spooner, who has confidence in his shot. More importantly, he knows the Sailors coaching staff and his teammates do too.

“They have a lot of confidence in me, so I’m never going to stop shooting,” Spooner said. “I know I’m a good shooter, so I’m never not going to be confident going into as hot. That’s the mindset I have every time I try to shoot the ball. But at the same time, knowing when to shoot it and when not to shoot it is something I’ve had to learn.”

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The Sailors’ team record for most made three-pointers in a game is nine, set by Chance Beauchamp against Huntington Beach in 2012.

“Robbie gets enough looks,” Sailors coach Bob Torribio said. “If he catches fire, maybe he can hit nine in a game. That’s a lot of made threes.”

Beauchamp helps out with the Sailors’ freshman team, which leads to some good trash-talking opportunities for Spooner, who made seven triples in Newport Harbor’s season opener against Segerstrom last year as a junior.

“I tease him about it every once in a while, like, I’m coming for it,” Spooner said. “It’d be nice to get, but I’m not trying specifically to get it. I’m just trying to win games.”

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Winning also has not been a problem for the Sailors (17-4). Despite graduating key starters like point guard Sam Barela, forward Dayne Chalmers and forward Will Harvey from last year’s team, Newport Harbor is again excelling with an impressive record.

Spooner has stepped up as a team captain this year. He leads Newport Harbor in scoring with 14 points per game, adding five rebounds per contest. Spooner earned tournament MVP honors as the Sailors won the St. Margaret’s tournament for the second straight season.

The Sailors have won six straight games heading into Wednesday’s final Sunset Conference crossover game, against Huntington Beach at home. They’re a perfect 3-0 in crossover games against Wave League foes Laguna Beach, Fountain Valley and Marina so far.

The Surf League opener on Friday night is big, as it’s a Battle of the Bay game at rival Corona del Mar.

“Our effort defensively,” Spooner said when asked what helps the Sailors succeed. “What we pride ourselves on is defense and rebounding. If we just keep working hard at that, offense will always come for us. Our shots might not be falling, but we like to say that we start on defense. I’d say we’re pretty well-known to be scrappy on defense. We work very hard to do so.”

Spooner helped the Sailors set a program-record for wins (26) last year, as well as earn a program-record 17-game winning streak. Even still, this year’s team is no slouch. Senior forwards Luke Bashore and Nick Silva, as well as senior guard Ryan Miller, have each thrived in their new starting roles.

Levi Darrow, who has assumed point guard duties and is the other team captain, poured in 31 points as the Sailors beat Marina 68-56 on Friday night.

“We’re definitely confident,” Spooner said. “We know our half of the Sunset [Conference] is very talented. We just kind of take that with a grain of salt. We just know we have to play our game. Obviously, scouting them is a key to playing them, but it’s really just about ourselves. We know that if we play our game, we can beat almost anyone.”

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Last year, the four Surf League teams all finished tied for first with a 3-3 league mark, making tiebreaker games necessary. Spooner hopes to lead the Sailors to first place outright this season.

Torribio said he’s impressed with the resolve that Spooner, the grandson of former USC basketball player Tony Psaltis, has come back with as a senior. He’s a two-sport athlete, and was a middle blocker on the Newport Harbor boys’ volleyball team that won CIF Southern Section Division 1 and CIF State Southern California Regional Division 1 titles last season.

Spooner is a three-year varsity player in hoops and a two-year starter. Even with playing two sports at a high level, he manages to keep a 3.8 grade-point average at Newport Harbor.

“He just knows what’s expected of our guys, whether it’s the weight room, whether it’s when we’re eating dinner as a team,” Torribio said. “He just kind of leads us on and off the court. It makes the coach’s life a lot easier when one of your best players does most of the leadership stuff for you.”

It remains to be seen whether Spooner ends up leading the Sailors’ record book for the most three-pointers in a game.

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Robbie Spooner

Born: Nov. 8, 2001

Hometown: Newport Beach

Height: 6 feet 4

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Weight: 200 pounds

Sport: Basketball

Year: Senior

Coach: Bob Torribio

Favorite food: Pasta with chicken

Favorite movie: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

Favorite athletic moment: Beating rival Corona del Mar in double overtime to win the Battle of the Bay game as a sophomore.

Week in review: Spooner had 23 points and 10 rebounds as the Sailors beat Yorba Linda 59-44 on Dec. 30 in the consolation final of the Century tournament. He also had a game-high 22 points as Newport Harbor beat Laguna Beach 58-45 at home on Jan. 3 in a Sunset Conference crossover game.

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