Sailors in struggle mode

NEWPORT BEACH — The Newport Harbor High boys' basketball team spent the past week out of town together.

The Sailors traveled to Chicago. They played in a tournament 90 minutes outside of the Windy City. They even practiced on the Notre Dame campus.

Before the New Year, they returned to Newport Beach. Their resolution had to have been to get back on the winning side.

On their first chance this year, the Sailors failed. The losing continued as Newport Harbor lost at home to Woodbridge, 54-41, in a nonleague contest on Tuesday.

The Sailors (5-9) dropped their seventh straight game. Almost four weeks have gone by since their last victory.

Newport Harbor will have to turn things around fast. Sunset League play for the Sailors opens Friday at Edison, which shared the league title last season. The problem with the Sailors, Coach Larry Hirst said, is that they don't have players they can count on.

"We don't lack team chemistry," Hirst said. "We just spent a whole week with each other and it was great. But we're trying to find some type of unity, some type of chemistry on the court that is the most successful for us as a unit. We're still searching."

Newport Harbor found no answers to their problems at the start against Woodbridge (10-6)

In the opening quarter, the Sailors turned the ball over nine times. They only scored five points and trailed by 10 after eight minutes of play.

Newport Harbor stayed within 10 points at halftime, thanks to three-point plays by Nic Sargeant, Robbie Rettig, Chance Beauchamp and Brian Robbs.

Also helping was Newport Harbor cutting down on the turnovers.

Balls stopped bouncing off players knees and going out of bounds. Inbound passes stopped going to the opposition.

"If you don't turn the ball over, you're going to give your team a much better chance to win," Hirst said. "Credit to Woodbridge. [The Warriors] caused a lot of those turnovers. They're very aggressive.

"This isn't the best time to play Woodbridge, [three] days before you play Edison."

While the timing isn't ideal to face a tough team before league play, Hirst said Newport Harbor and Woodbridge have played for the last 17 years. Most of that time the two teams met when they were members of the Sea View League.

Woodbridge is now in the Pacific Coast League, and in the Newport Harbor gym was Jason Simco, an assistant coach from CdM, who was scouting the Warriors. The Sea Kings are at Woodbridge in a league game on Tuesday.

Jason Gregson led Woodbridge with 17 points. Michael Scarlett contributed 14 points and Austin Rouk added 10 points. Those three players matched Newport Harbor's point total.

Beauchamp finished with 11 points for the Sailors, who never really stood a chance against Woodbridge.

Not helping their cause was dismal shooting from the free-throw line. The Sailors converted just eight of 18 free-throw attempts.

"This was a huge game for us," said Hirst, whose final nonleague game is at Estancia on Saturday at 7 p.m. "Our last [nonleague game] is a big deal for us because now every win gets us that much closer to maybe qualifying for an at-large [entry into the CIF Southern Section Division 2A playoffs], or hopefully impressing the [playoff] committee to let us in."

david.carrillo@latimes.com

Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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Nonleague

Woodbridge 54, Newport Harbor 41

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Wood 15 – 15 – 10 – 14 — 54

Newport 5 – 15 – 8 – 13 — 41

WB – Gregson 17, Scarlett 14, Rouk 10, Busch 5, Lodin 4, Lessman 2, Haidrey 2.

3-pt. goals – None.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – None.

NH – Beauchamp 11, Sargeant 10, Robbs 9, Aqueveque 5, Rettig 3, Myszynski 2, Wade 1.

3-pt. goals – Robbs 3, Sargeant 2, Rettig 1, Beauchamp 1.

Fouled out – None.

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