'Young' guns win tourney

Newport Harbor High held its 10th annual alumni boys' basketball tournament Saturday.

The tournament featured six teams with players ranging from the class of 1973 to the current graduating class. The competition was intense and professional referees were used to make sure the competitive zeal remained in the bounds of good sportsmanship.

The team led by Thomas Melum was eliminated in the semifinals by the team headed by Jamie Diefenbach, who played men's volleyball for UCLA and in his senior year competed on the men's basketball team for the Bruins. The other semifinal matchup featured a team formed by Justin McIntee, a three-time winner of the tournament. Unfortunately, McIntee could not compete due to an injury the previous week. This group included players from the 1990 to 1992 classes and was led by the outside shooting of Tom Wait and Eric Vallely and the inside presence of Kevin Saks.

The team from the 1990s played a group from the class of 2006. The 2006 team eventually won the tournament and was comprised of Ted Slater, Sean Eddington, Robert Koon, Vinnie Nasca, Tony Yaghijan and former Newport Harbor junior varsity coach Gary Robinson. The game was the most competitive of the day.

The 2006 class took a huge early lead on the hot shooting of Eddington and Yaghijan. The 1990s squad battled back with tough defense and by pounding the ball inside. The game was clinched in the last seconds by the clutch free-throw shooting of Koon.

The finals featured Diefenbach's team from the class of 2002 against the 2006 squad.

This was the third finals appearance for the 2002 team, which also included Chase Cameron, Chad Rorden, Ben Soza, Jair Hernandez and Eric Nutter. The 2002 class had never won in two previous tries and started out the game looking to avenge its losses from previous years.

However, while the 2006 squad was undersized when compared to the 6-foot-8 Diefenbach, it continued its hot shooting and took the title going away.

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