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Newport Harbor boys’ basketball handles CdM in Battle of the Bay

Newport Harbor's Levi Darrow makes a layup during the Battle of the Bay basketball game against Corona del Mar on Friday.
Newport Harbor’s Levi Darrow makes a layup during the Battle of the Bay basketball game against Corona del Mar on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

The Corona del Mar High School boys’ basketball team left the back court empty, attempting a high press to box in visiting Newport Harbor.

Newport Harbor senior Levi Darrow saw an opening and ran. Fellow senior Luke Barnes launched a pass down the court to find the 6-foot-2 Darrow for a bucket and some breathing room. They pulled it off three times, resulting in two baskets and a foul.

“We practice that play over and over,” Darrow said. “I don’t think we thought it would work that much. Luke Barnes looking like Tom Brady out there.”

With clutch plays down the stretch, Newport Harbor hung on to beat rival Corona del Mar 50-41 to take the latest edition of the Battle of the Bay on Friday. Although it was a nonleague game, the fierceness of the rivalry was felt.

“It’s always fun playing these crosstown games,” Newport Harbor coach Bob Torribio said. “We’re both kind of struggling in our own spots right now, so we’re happy to come away with a win tonight.”

Newport Harbor players and students celebrate on the court after winning the Battle of the Bay basketball game on Friday.
Newport Harbor players and students celebrate on the court after winning the Battle of the Bay game against Corona del Mar on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Newport Harbor (3-4) leapt to an early lead with a pair of first-quarter three-pointers by senior Tyler Li, who scored nine points on the night — all from beyond the arc.

“I knew I needed to get going early,” Li said. “I think that’s really what helped my confidence throughout the whole game.”

Sanjay Tewari hit a pair of triples of his own to help put Corona del Mar ahead 13-12, its only lead.

“Trying to get an open shot where we can,” CdM head coach Ryan Schachter said. “I just felt we were way too stagnant on offense.”

In the second quarter, CdM (4-7) continued to struggle to find open looks. The Sailors’ defense held strong, forcing turnovers and bad shots.

Newport Harbor's Tyler Li (24) drives the lane for a tough basket.
Newport Harbor’s Tyler Li (24) drives the lane for a tough basket.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Newport Harbor took a 25-17 lead at halftime by outscoring CdM 11-4 in the second quarter.

“We just didn’t make enough plays,” Schachter said. “They made the plays when they counted. They got the loose balls, the rebounds. They’re tough, real physical, they play hard, they defend really well. We knew we would need to play really well to beat them. We just didn’t play well enough.”

When the game resumed after the break, players seemed to have a new level of energy. Li knocked down a three-pointer and soon after was involved in some extracurricular activity that earned him a technical foul.

“It fires me up,” Li said of the back-and-forth with CdM players and spectators. “My coaches don’t really like it that much.”

Commenting on the play, Torribio said, “Probably the first and only [technical foul] of his entire career.”

Corona del Mar's Scott Truninger drives to the basket in first quarter of the Battle of the Bay game.
CdM’s Scott Truninger drives to the basket in first quarter of the Battle of the Bay game.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

CdM made things interesting down the stretch with quick baskets by Jack Louks and Jack Johnston, but Newport Harbor had enough to hold off the 15-point fourth-quarter surge.

“Every time I’ve won a Battle of the Bay, we just go ballistic,” Darrow said. “It means the world to us.”

Torribio said his players “came with smiles on their faces” when they prepared for the season outdoors.

“We didn’t think we were going to have a season,” Li said. “We came in, we knew our fans were going to support us, and we just balled out.”

Newport Harbor's Levi Darrow blocks the layup attempt of Corona del Mar's Sanjay Tewari.
Newport Harbor’s Levi Darrow blocks the layup attempt of CdM’s Sanjay Tewari.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Nonleague

Newport Harbor 50, Corona del Mar 41

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Newport Harbor 14 – 11 – 14 – 11 — 50

Corona del Mar 13 – 4 – 9 – 15 — 41

NH – Darrow 12, Passero 11, Barnes 9, Li 9, Siegel 6, Elgin 3.

3-pt. goals – Li 3, Elgin 1, Barnes 1, Passero 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – Li.

CdM – Tewari 10, Bond 7, Gerien 6, Louks 4, Truninger 4, Bruening 3, Hamilton 2, Rogers 2, Johnston 2, Djomby-Enyawe 1.

3-pt. goals – Tewari 3, Bruening 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

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