Boys' Basketball: Top-seeded Westlake holds off Tars

NEWPORT BEACH — The rivet-rattling roar of the home Newport Harbor High boys' basketball crowd was as resounding as the effort that inspired it Tuesday.

But the collective groans of frustration down the stretch by Sailors' rooters served as a symphony of survival for top-seeded Westlake in the second round of the CIF Southern Section 2A playoffs.

The underdog Sailors (14-14), coming off the program's first postseason victory in six seasons, nearly kept pace with the Warriors (24-4), who used points off turnovers and some deadly three-point shooting to prevail, 87-78.

Newport Harbor, which came in with a season-best-tying four-game winning streak, seemed to feed off the crowd on its way to trailing only 39-35 at halftime.

The Tars pulled even on a dunk by 7-foot senior Kevin Rakestraw midway through the third period and used an 8-0 run to begin the fourth quarter to claim a 62-61 advantage with 6:45 left.

But Westlake, which like Newport Harbor, got all its scoring from its starters, countered with a 10-0 burst that began and ended with three-pointers by junior guard Larry Bush, to regain control.

Newport Harbor had a chance to cut into the deficit a handful of times. But its shots, including repeated attempts from three-point range, failed to find the bottom of the net, prompting the hopeful home fans to groan in unison with each costly miss.

"We played hard," Newport Harbor Coach Bob Torribio said. "But to pull off the upset, you have to knock down the big shots. We had a few good looks there, we thought, and if those go in, it's a different game. We made a few to keep us in it, but to beat a great team like that, that is going to score about every time they touch the ball, you really have to knock down shots, and we missed a couple good ones."

Bush and Marcos Soto, a 6-8 junior, missed more seldom for the visitors. Bush connected on five of eight three-point attempts, while Soto, operating primarily from the corners, sank four of five.

Westlake senior scoring leader Grant Lozoya, who came in averaging 18 points per game, picked up three fouls in the first period and had just two points through the first 26 minutes.

But Soto, who finished with 28 points, and Bush, who chipped in 21, more than doubled their combined scoring averages (23.2 per contest) to eliminate the Sailors, who matched their season-best scoring output.

"We knew it was pick your poison against those guys, but we thought we picked the right poison," Torribio said.

Bush and backcourt brothers Joshua and Isaiah Brooks (18 and 13 points, respectively) also combined to harass Newport ballhandlers to help create most of the hosts' 20 turnovers.

Newport Harbor junior Nic Sargeant scored 16 of his team-high 23 points in the first half, slashing aggressively, popping from the perimeter and stepping into passing lanes to trigger end-to-end layups. The 5-11 guard also collected nine rebounds and four steals.

Rakestraw, who amassed 35 points and 26 rebounds in the first-round victory, made eight of nine field-goal tries, nearly half of which were dunks either from lob passes or offensive rebounds. Rakestraw, who will play volleyball at Stanford next year, had nine rebounds and one blocked shot.

Senior guard Zach Wade had 15 points, nearly all on dribble penetration, while senior Brian Robbs had nine of his 13 points, including a pair of three-pointers, in the second half to help the Harbor comeback bid.

Senior point guard Robbie Rettig had six of his eight points in the final period.

The Sailors converted 20 of 25 foul shots, while the Warriors netted 15 of 23, including 12 of 18 in the final 7:47.

Westlake shot 50.8% from the field (31 of 61) and made half of its 14 shots from threedom. The visitors also had just five of their 14 turnovers after intermission.

"This was a lot of fun tonight," Torribio said. "Hopefully, we can carry it through to next year."

Westlake, which won its first Marmonte League title since 1996, advances to Thursday's quarterfinals and will face Cherry Valley Beaumont.

*

CIF Southern Section Playoffs

Division 2A second round

Westlake 87, Newport Harbor 78

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Westlake 25 – 16 – 20 – 26 — 87

Newport 16 – 19 – 21 – 22 — 78

Wes – Soto 28, Bush 21, Jo. Brooks 18, I. Brooks 12, Lozoya 8.

3-pt. goals – Bush 5, Soto 4, I. Brooks 1.

Fouled out – None.

Technicals – Bush 1.

NH – Sargeant 23, Rakestraw 19, Wade 15, Robbs 13, Rettig 8.

3-pt. goals – Sargeant 2, Robbs 2.

Fouled out – Sargeant.

Technicals – Sargeant 1, Wade 1.

barry.faulkner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BarryFaulkner5

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