The last time that the Newport Harbor High boys’ basketball team played rival Corona del Mar, it was sophomore guard Levi Darrow who made plays down the stretch.
Newport Harbor won the Surf League tiebreaker game last January, and it was Darrow who scored eight of his 11 points in the fourth quarter.
Darrow, now a junior, saw the Sea Kings again on Friday night. This time, it was in front of a packed house at their gym for a league opener.
The first Battle of the Bay game of 2020 lived up to the hype. Again, Darrow stayed calm during crunch time to help lead Newport Harbor to victory.
He scored half of his 12 points in overtime as the Sailors earned a 58-55 win, holding off a determined push by CdM for the big road victory.
Newport Harbor (19-4) had its fans rush the court after CdM’s last-second three-pointer, defended by Darrow, came up with nothing but air.
Darrow scored six of the Sailors’ seven points in overtime, including two free throws with 20 seconds left that gave the visitors a 56-55 lead. After CdM missed a three-pointer, Darrow was fouled with four seconds remaining, and he again made both free throws.
“I felt [the pressure] a little bit on my and-one,” said Darrow, who failed to convert the three-point play earlier in overtime. “Then I’m like, ‘All right, we’re just going to pretend like it’s the backyard and we’re practicing free throws. We practice free throws in practice every single day. I tried to go up there and block out the noise.”
Senior guard Ryan Miller finished with 12 points, senior forward Robbie Spooner had nine points and senior forward Luke Bashore added seven points and a career-high six blocks for the Sailors, who led by as many as 11 points but couldn’t hold a 51-43 lead in the final three minutes of regulation. CdM (14-7) ended the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run, as freshman Efe Gucoglu’s two free throws with 46 seconds left tied the score at 51-51.
“When they started hitting shots, our guys didn’t get discouraged,” Newport Harbor coach Bob Torribio said. “It was what we tried to preach, a next-play mentality. I’ll give our guys a lot of credit. They definitely carried that all the way through to the end.
“We trust our guys. We’ve got a lot of experience out there with Levi, Robbie and Ryan Miller, who all played a lot of minutes last year. And Luke and Nick just do everything we ask them to do. Levi and Robbie were very patient all night and didn’t hurry anything, and it just shows what kind of young men they are.”
Senior guard Jack Stone led the Sea Kings with 33 points and five three-pointers. At one stretch, he scored 22 points in a row for CdM.
Stone fouled out while going in for a layup with 1:06 left in overtime. He was called for an offensive foul after pushing off with his left arm.
CdM coach Ryan Schachter said he was pleased with the Sea Kings’ effort. Gucoglu had 10 points, including two three-pointers in the second half, while senior guard Jack McKenna scored all seven of his points in the second half.
“They showed a lot of character tonight,” Schachter said. “I was so happy to see that. We haven’t been playing well lately. We probably haven’t played well since [a nonleague win over] San Clemente [on Dec. 20]. Win or lose, I’m just glad we played well. [Newport Harbor] is a good team, and we tried to take [Spooner and Darrow] out and make the other guys beat us, and they made shots.”
Newport Harbor 58, Corona del Mar 55 (OT)
SCORE BY PERIODS
Newport Harbor 16 – 14 – 13 – 8 – 7 — 58
Corona del Mar 10 – 12 – 14 – 15 - 4 — 55
NH – Darrow 12, Miller 12, Spooner 9, Silva 8, Bashore 7, Li 7, Barnes 3.
3-pt. goals – Darrow 2, Barnes 1, Li 1, Spooner 1, Bashore 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
CdM – Stone 33, Gucoglu 10, McKenna 7, Overfelt 2, Hamilton 2, Truninger 1.
3-pt. goals – Stone 5, Gucoglu 2, McKenna 1.
Fouled out – Stone.
Technicals – None.
Support our sports coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.