The Newport Harbor High girls’ basketball team knew that it would be starting over this season.
Only three returners came back at the varsity level. Starting forwards Chloe Swanson and Willa Rath returned, as did Natalie Robinson.
Regardless, Sailors coach Jillian Angell is excited about how the roster filled out.
The host Sailors had eight different players score at least one field goal on Tuesday night, as Newport Harbor defeated Costa Mesa 39-24 in its season opener.
Swanson led the Sailors with nine points and 10 rebounds, and Cydney Jover matched the team-high mark in scoring with nine points, including two three-pointers.
One of the newcomers that impressed the most was guard Reese Vickers, who returned to basketball after spending three years away from the sport. Vickers, a lacrosse player, has quickly earned the respect of her teammates.
“She’s aggressive,” Swanson said. “She’s not afraid of contact or the ball. You can tell that she wants to be there, and she wants to put the ball in the basket, or pass it, too.
“She’s a good team player because she’ll pass the ball if you’re open.”
Vickers finished with five points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals, a full line in her debut for the girls’ basketball team.
Newport Harbor jumped out to an 11-1 lead, and the Sailors remained up 14-6 at the end of the first quarter.
In the third quarter, Danna Olivera came off the bench to score four points to go with four rebounds. Her contributions helped the Sailors extend their lead to 33-21 going to the fourth quarter.
Angell said that Olivera earned a promotion from the junior varsity squad, and she believes that Olivera provides the depth necessary to keep her starters fresh.
“That little inside play right there in the paint, that’s where she lives,” Angell said. “She’s a great person to come off the bench and give the posts some break, give Chloe and Willa a little bit of rest.”
With inexperience comes mistakes, and Newport Harbor turned the ball over at a rate that was too high for Angell’s liking. She took multiple timeouts with a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter to address the issue.
“I was kind of explaining to them that they’re all good physical basketball players, but now the next step for them is the mental side of it,” Angell said. “Learning when you want to push and when you want to slow it down.”
Costa Mesa (0-2) began the season by playing back-to-back games in the Back Bay double. The Mustangs lost at Corona del Mar 55-29 on Monday night.
On Tuesday, Samantha Filner led the Mustangs in scoring with nine points on a trio of three-pointers. Tarah Harmon had six points, five rebounds and four steals, Katie Belmontes added five points and seven rebounds, and McKayla Ortiz chipped in with four points and seven rebounds.
The Mustangs shot themselves out of the game against the Sailors, too often settling for long-range jump shots instead of getting to the rim. When they got to the free-throw line, they converted on just seven of 18 attempts.
“I hope they learn to recognize when they’re open, and I hope they learn to have some fight in them,” Mustangs coach Samantha Doucette said. “I’m tired of every team that we’ve played so far getting all the 50-50 balls, and us running to the rim instead of boxing out. Our decision-making needs to get better.”
Costa Mesa’s busy first week continues with a home game against Trabuco Hills on Thursday and a road game at El Toro on Saturday.
Newport Harbor 39, Costa Mesa 24
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Costa Mesa 6 – 8 – 7 – 3 – 24
Newport Harbor 14 – 4 – 15 – 6 – 39
CM – Filner 9, Harmon 6, Belmontes 5, Ortiz 4.
3-pt. goals – Filner 3.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
NH – Jover 9, Swanson 9, Vickers 5, Perry 4, Rath 4, Olivera 4, Robinson 2, Fults 2
3-pt. goals – Jover 2.
Fouled out – Jover.