Yardley tournament returns

During the summer last year, Newport Harbor High boys' basketball coach Robert Torribio and his assistant Jason Carey made a vow to bring back the George Yardley Tournament that takes place in the summer.

There were several reasons they wanted to bring back the tournament. One of those reasons was to continue to honor George Yardley and to keep the name for the tournament.

Yardley, who is in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, is one of the greatest athletes to have competed at Newport Harbor High.

Carey approached Yardley's daughter, Anne Yardley, who lives in Newport Beach, and asked for her blessing.

"She told us to go for it," Carey said.

And with that the George Yardley Tournament returns after a one-year hiatus and it's back with a bang with 16 teams, including Mater Dei, starting Friday at Newport Harbor.

Carey didn't stop there with the genius public relations move. He scheduled the Sailors to open up against Mater Dei, the traditional basketball powerhouse that has won three straight CIF state championships and 10 overall.

Carey didn't want to hear any chance of a complaint from a team that it would draw the Monarchs first.

"I just said, "hey, we'll take them,'" Carey said. "That way we make everyone happy."

Newport Harbor will play against Mater Dei Friday at 7:45 p.m.

The tournament also features each school in the Newport-Mesa area, including Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Estancia and Sage Hill.

CdM opens the tournament against Brethren Christian at 11 a.m.

Costa Mesa starts with El Toro at 5:15 p.m.

Estancia will play against Santa Margarita at 1:30 p.m.

Sage Hill takes on Jurupa Hills at 6:30 p.m.

Mission Viejo, Esperanza, San Clemente, Edison, Huntington Beach and West Torrance are also in the tournament that ends Sunday with the championship game at 6:45 p.m.

Carey said as word spread that the tournament would return more teams became interested.

"We got to 15 teams and it was a sweat getting there," Carey said. "And then I started to think that I have to get to 16. I was thinking to throw in a JV team. And then the day I got 16, I had two other schools wanting to join. Hopefully it can get bigger and bigger."

Newport Harbor didn't have the tournament last year mainly because of the transition in coaching, as Torribio came in as the new coach after Larry Hirst stepped down amid controversy.

Hirst resigned in March last year after he and his wife received criminal threats.

The basketball program was suspended for three weeks before Torribio later took over as coach.

"It's a tournament that I had always participated in," said Carey, who had been an assistant at Fountain Valley for eight years before coming to Newport Harbor three years ago. "It was a good tournament. Last season when Bob took over, we kind of got thrown in the fire. We knew it was a good fundraiser. We made a pact last summer we would bring it back."

Carey and the Sailors are excited about the return of the tournament and the chance to honor George Yardley again.

The late Yardley, a.k.a. "The Bird," graduated in 1946 and went on to star at Stanford. After that he was named an NBA All-Star six times in seven seasons, playing for the Fort Wayne and Detroit Pistons.

He was the first player to score as many as 2,000 points in a single season in the NBA, breaking the mark of George Mikan of the Minneapolis Lakers.

Yardley was also known for being an active community member in Newport Beach.

Recently he was named to the CIF Southern Section top 100 athletes to celebrate the section's 100th anniversary.

"We wanted to keep the name for the tournament the same," Carey said. "Hopefully we can keep the reputation going."

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