Larry Hirst stepped down as Newport Harbor High boys' basketball coach Wednesday, said Michael Vossen, the school's principal.
Vossen said Hirst, 50, is taking a personal leave of absence and there is a possibility that Hirst can return to his post as coach. Vossen said he could not comment as to why Hirst, who was in his 16th season, decided to step away from the program with nine Sunset League games left to play.
Vossen said Bob Torribio, an assistant coach, is taking over for the Sailors (5-11, 0-1 in league), who have lost nine straight games. Torribio has stepped in twice before for Hirst. The last time was last season, when Hirst collapsed because of dehydration during a game.
Hirst returned and the Sailors missed the CIF Southern Section playoffs for the second time in the past three seasons.
Hirst also took a one-year sabbatical during the 2008-09 season to spend more time with his family.
The Sailors had reached the postseason for 12 straight years under Hirst before he stepped away three years ago.