LOS ALAMITOS — Almost a week went by since the last time the Newport Harbor High boys’ basketball team played a game. Would a delay hurt?
The Sailors stood around and waited for Friday’s tip. The start time to the Sunset League game at Los Alamitos ran 25 minutes behind schedule. The Sailors hung around near one of the locker rooms and Coach Bob Torribio looked on from the side of the court.
“They got the Zamboni guy,” Torribio said, referring to the man buffing the court while riding a machine.
The machine left behind water on the sidelines and baselines. Before the Sailors took the court, Torribio warned them, “Don’t run on the blue. Stay on the court.”
Once the Sailors made it onto the court, they were on their own. They lost their footing right away against the Griffins, who went on to blow out the Sailors, 66-45, and remain undefeated in league play.
Los Alamitos (16-4, 4-0 in league) killed any chance of Newport Harbor starting 3-1 in league for the first time in seven seasons. Extra chances helped the Griffins, ranked No. 12 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1AA poll, win their ninth straight game.
By halftime, Los Alamitos grabbed nine offensive rebounds, leading to 13 points. The put-backs frustrated the Sailors, so much that it cost them points late in the first half.
The hosts took a 33-17 lead into halftime, thanks to converting four straight free throws with 1.5 seconds left in the first half. After Jack Kaub grabbed an offensive rebound and got fouled trying to score, the Sailors’ bench argued the call.
One of the referees gave the bench a technical. Torribio couldn’t believe the foul on Elliott Frye.
“Starting center on a [CIF Southern Section Southwest Division] football finalist and we thought a tough kid like that had a pretty good box out on one of their big guys and we thought [Kaub] went over the back,” Torribio said.
The Sailors beat Los Alamitos in football. They stood no chance against the Griffins on the hardwood.
Eyassu Worku led the Griffins with 21 points, recording 10 of those in the first quarter. The sophomore guard made five of his first six shots, before picking up his second foul with 2 1/2 minutes left in the opening quarter.
Worku exited in the first quarter, as did Khalid Washington. With three seconds left in the quarter, Washington, a senior guard, earned his second offensive foul.
“Game plan was perfect right then and there with their two best players on the bench,” Torribio said of Washington and Worku, who average 16.4 and 13.4 points per game, respectively.
Worku and Washington sat out the entire second quarter and Los Alamitos still outscored the Sailors, 14-6, during the 8 minutes. The two returned in the third quarter and Worku sparked an 11-0 run, producing five of the points as the Griffins ran away from Newport (11-10, 2-2). Washington scored six of his 10 points in the third quarter.
Nic Sargeant finished with 15 points for the Sailors, who have dropped two straight games since they opened league at 2-1, their best start in four seasons.
“Some knucklehead scheduled [Corona del Mar] and Los Al back-to-back,” Torribio said with a grin. “I don’t think a lot of coaches in the county would do that.”
The Sailors had five days to get ready for Los Alamitos, after Newport Harbor dropped the Battle of the Bay rivalry at home to CdM, 76-50.
“You can prepare. You can watch film,” said Torribio, who led the Sailors to a win at Los Alamitos last season, “but it’s a whole another thing for a group of guys that hasn’t played a whole lot of basketball at Los Al to get ready for their length and their talent.”
Los Alamitos 66, Newport Harbor 45
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Newport 11 – 6 – 9 – 19 — 45
Los Al 19 – 14 – 20 – 13 — 66
NH – Sargeant 15, Faris 5, C. Davis 5, Stanley 5, G. Davis 4, O’Neil 4, Pipkin 3, Bockrath 2, Gonzalez 2.
3-pt. goals – Faris 1, C. Davis 1, Stanley 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – Bench.
LA – Worku 21, Washington 10, Kaub 7, Kusch 6, D. Pagett 6, Igboke 5, Wirth 4, Worthy 3, Powelson 3, K. Pagett 1.
3-pt. goals – D. Paget 2, Worth 1.
Fouled out – None.
Technicals – Igboke, Team.