Two games into the Newport Harbor High boys’ basketball season, and Sam Barela looks fresh. Not playing a sport in the fall is a big reason why Barela said he feels lighter on his feet.
He used to throw passes on the football field for the Sailors, until he decided to focus on the passes on the basketball court in his senior year. Barela can score and play defense, too.
The 6-foot-3 point guard showcased his all-around game Tuesday in the Sailors’ opener in the Grizzly Invitational. Barela finished with 10 points, seven assists, four steals and four rebounds, leading the Sailors to a 64-38 victory at Loara.
Newport Harbor (2-0) can win its pool and advance to the Gold Division quarterfinals with a win against Long Beach Wilson (1-1) on Wednesday. The pool-play game is at Loara at 4:45 p.m.
The Bruins defeated Loara 65-58 in their opener on Monday.
“We saw them play Loara,” Newport Harbor coach Bob Torribio said, “and they play fast.”
The Sailors can run a little as well.
Barela came up with a steal and raced the other way for a layup with 5:10 to go in the first half. The play capped a 9-0 run and gave Newport Harbor a 22-6 lead.
When the Sailors slowed it down, Barela found the open player. He made things easier for the offense, which shot 60% from the field.
Dayne Chalmers had 14 points, Robbie Spooner 12 and Will Harvey 11 against the Saxons (2-2), ranked No. 13 in the CIF Southern Section Division 4A poll. Barela also ran a fastbreak and delivered a nice pass off the backboard to a trailing Chalmers midway through the fourth quarter.
“I was a little bit late on it,” Chalmers said of the play, which resulted in a layup instead of a dunk.
Chalmers and Barela are usually on the same page. They were last season, when the duo led the Sailors to their first Sunset League title since 1979-80.
Chalmers, a 6-4 senior, said Newport Harbor expects a lot of success this season. The program is now part of the Surf League, which includes Corona del Mar, Edison and Los Alamitos.
“[We’re] really excited for the season,” said Barela, who shared the Sunset League MVP award last season. “We got a new league this year. CdM is in it, so we get to play [our rival] twice. Every team in the … Surf League [is] legit this year.”
League play isn’t until January. For now, the Sailors are hoping to make another deep run in the Grizzly Invitational.
A year ago, Newport Harbor reached the semifinals of the tournament. The semifinal trip marked the first of three straight for the program.
Defense is always a strength for the Sailors, and they used it to shut down Loara. The Saxons only made six of 26 shots in the first half and trailed 28-12 at halftime.
The lone player Newport Harbor allowed to reach double figures was Cade Flowers, who had 13 points on four-for-13 shooting.
“We like this team a lot,” said Torribio, who has seven seniors. “Things weren’t flowing offensively, but we did a great job defensively.”
Newport Harbor 64, Loara 38
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Newport Harbor 13 – 15 – 14 – 22 — 64
Loara 4 – 8 – 12 – 14 — 38
NH – Chalmers 14, Spooner 12, Harvey 11, Barela 10, Darrow 6, Firey 4, Miller 3, Forbath 2, Silva 2.
3-pt. goals – Spooner 2, Darrow 2, Miller 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – None.
L – Flowers 13, Nanthavongdouangsy 8, Nguyen 6, Nanthavong 5, Lucio 4, Duplantier 2.
3-pt. goals – Flowers 2, Nanthavong 1.
Fouled out – None.