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High School Male Athlete of the Week: Newport Harbor’s Robbie Spooner shoots, scores for community

High School Male Athlete of the Week: Newport Harbor’s Robbie Spooner shoots, scores for community
Robbie Spooner had 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead Newport Harbor to the Century Elks Holiday Classic championship last week. (Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Robbie Spooner feels privileged to have lived the life he has.

He lives in a destination city on the west coast, and he plays for one of the best high school basketball teams in all of Orange County.

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When he is not on a basketball court, Spooner says that he spends his free time playing NBA 2K, a basketball video game.

Spooner presented a picture in that his free time is devoted to basketball all the time. What he finds to be privilege is the fact that his life is that simple.

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“It’s just a really nice community, and I’m so privileged to live here,” Spooner said of living in Newport Beach. “You just kind of have to understand all the aspects of how simple we have it compared to other places.

“Some people don’t even have the privilege of going outside and playing hoops without just thinking that they’re safe. I just have to take advantage of the opportunity that I have and just know that I’m blessed.”

Spooner capitalized on an opportunity at the beginning of this year when he found himself in a prominent role as a starter for the Newport Harbor High boys’ basketball team.

“He stepped right into a role as a starter on this team right away,” Sailors coach Bob Torribio said. “We go back to the spring and early summer where it was our first summer league game, and he came out and he took on a leadership role, just defensively, talking and getting guys in the right spots.

“He was filling a spot that we were kind of appreciative of, him stepping into it right away without any sort of coaching.”

The Sailors coaching staff had a good idea that Spooner would be ready to take on the added responsibility. After playing for the junior varsity squad his freshman year, Spooner got brought up to varsity as a sophomore.

Torribio said that Spooner was the “sixth man” of the team last season, when Newport Harbor shared the Sunset League championship with Edison. The league title marked the Sailors’ first since they won the Sea View League in 2002.

Spooner and the Sailors are making history again this season, although you might not have heard about it if you were not following it closely. The team has invoked a “next game” mentality, and they downplayed it after Newport Harbor (19-1) won its school-record 14th consecutive game in beating Sunny Hills 67-54 in the Century Elks Holiday Classic championship game last Saturday.

Persistence finally got Spooner to acknowledge the streak, but he expressed concern that talking about it might jinx the run that his team has been on.

“It obviously means a lot,” Spooner said. “Just being able to see your team anywhere on the record book is just an amazing feeling.

“However, with that said, there’s still more games to play. We want to keep that as long as we can. Just take it game by game and play by play.”

Spooner posted averages of 15 points and five rebounds per game in the Century Elks Holiday Classic. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard had 14 points and 11 rebounds in the final.

The game of basketball was introduced to Spooner at a young age by his grandfather Tony Psaltis, who played basketball for USC from 1954-56 and served as an assistant coach for the Trojans from 1959-66.

Several members of Spooner’s family have gone to USC, including his mother, Katherine, and his sister, Callie.

“It is a legacy,” Spooner said. “However, I want to create my own legacy. I would love to go to USC, but if I don’t get the opportunity, I’m not going to bring myself down on it too hard.”

Spooner has found another way to bring meaning to his life in the form of community service. He is part of a charity group called the National League of Young Men, where he has volunteered at soup kitchens and acquired a passion for helping out the homeless.

“The homeless people need our help, and I feel like humans should be there for one another,” Spooner said. “[Privilege] definitely plays a role, especially when you’re driving by…, there’s a place in your heart for people like that that.”

Spooner carried a 3.8 GPA as a sophomore. This year, his coursework includes AP Computer Science, AP Environmental Science, United States History, Pre-Calculus, IB Business and Composition-Literature 3.

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Robbie Spooner

Born: Nov. 8, 2001

Hometown: Newport Beach

Height: 6 feet 4

Weight: 190 pounds

Sport: Basketball

Year: Junior

Coach: Bob Torribio

Favorite food: Chicken and rice

Favorite movie: “Cars”

Favorite athletic moment: In his first year on the varsity team last season, Newport Harbor beat Corona del Mar in double overtime to win the Battle of the Bay. Spooner remarked that the rivalry game drew one of the biggest crowds he has played in front of.

Week in review: Spooner helped Newport Harbor win the Century Elks Holiday Classic last week. The junior shooting guard had 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Sailors to a 67-54 win over Sunny Hills in the championship game.

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