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SoCal High School & Prep Preview

High School Preview: O.C. Seaview League--
Newport Harbor--(November 30, 1997)

Newport Harbor High plays in the very competitive Seaview league. Most coaches and newspapers are picking Santa Margarita as the favorite this year, but at SoCalHoops Corona Del Mar is our own personal favorite. Last season the Newport Harbor Sailors finished with a 15-12 overall won-loss record, and went 5-5 in Seaview League play, finishing third, but making the playoffs. They lost to Ocean View 47-43 in the First Round of the Division II-A Playoffs. The varsity is coached by Larry Hirst, who is in his third season, having compiled a 21-30 record during that time.

Hirst received some bad news last week when 6'-6" senior Chuck Loo quit to specialize on his track career. 6'-6" junior Nick Sense, who was a strong forward and could play post also quit the squad after playing in the summer.The team lost three starters to graduation, including Danny Pulido, an All-League selection last season. But Hirst has picked up one transfer from Washington recently, 6'-2" Mark Ward, and hopefully that will help. That's a lot of changes for a program to absorb in a single year, but many in the Orange County area still believe that Newport Harbor has enough talent to at least finish third again in Seaview League play and to advance to the playoffs.

The roster includes:

Matt Jameson (5'-11" Jr. G)
Scott Archbold (6'-1" Sr. G)
Dustin Illingworth (6'-2" So. F)
Adam Hearlson (6'-7" Jr. C)
Gary Robinson (6'-0" Jr. G)
Mark Ward (6'-2" Jr. G)
Alan Limon (6'-2" Jr. G)
Carlos Nicasio (6'-5" Sr. C)
Scott Dore (6'-4" Sr. F)
Trevor Thissel (6'-4" Sr. F)
Henry Galdamez (5'-8" Sr. G)
James Hernandes (6'-2" Sr. SG)

It's very likely that Hirst will start only one senior, returning starter and senior point guard Matt Jameson, who averaged 12.7 points and 3.4 assists last season. But it's also possible that senior 6'-0" guard Scott Archbold will start, as well as sophomore 6'-4" forward Dustin Illingworth. Mark Ward, a junior guard transfer from Washington state, and junior point guard Gary Robinson will also see significant playing time on this young team which is really pretty guard heavy and without a true big man, like CDM, or Santa Margarita.

According to a recent interview in the Orange County edition of the LA Times with coach Hirst, the biggest change this year for the Newport Harbor Sailors will be the new rule implementing the 35-second shot clock.   Hirst is a big proponent of offensive patience, and in his first three seasons, the teams have been rather low scoring, looking carefully for their openings, and playing a cautious, patient game. They've averaged 47 points in 50 contests with no shot clock over the past two seasons. That'll probably change, and with their size Hirst will probably look to play a more up-tempo game, provided his players have the fundamental skills and talent to pull it off. Hirst told the Times that with the increase in scoring, "I think you'll see a lot more zone." But he personally favors man-to-man. "I think defenses are going to try to pack it in and challenge teams to get the best shot off they can."

Harbor will, as noted above, be led by junior point guard Matt Jameson. He was an All-Newport-Mesa District and second-team All-League selection as a sophomore. He's a very hard working player, with a nice shot, and good passing skills, with great court vision to get the ball to the open man. Jameson has worked hard in the off-season (what's the "off-season"?) to increase his size and bulk by working on a weight training program. Hirst wants to Jameson to increase not only his perimeter scoring but the penetration as well: "He's been so solid and conservative for us," Hirst said. "But this year, we want to loosen the reigns and encourage him to break out of his comfort zone. His outside game has always been pretty good, but now we'll ask him to penetrate and finish," he told the Times.

Hirst believes the team is young and relatively inexperienced, with the possible exception of Jameson and Archbold, but said that even so, "We're young, so we can be good to average, depending on what day and what quarter it is. The only way to really get rid of youth and inexperience is by playing, so we're anxious to get started. I think we could be good this year, if we get enough experience in December."

Jameson will be looking for assistance from Archbold who is a great outside shooter, and who cuts to the basket nicely and rebounds well. "His [Archbold's] game has matured," Hirst told the Times. He averaged 5.3 ppg last season, and will be expected to increase that as well with a more up-tempo style of play. "His athletic ability to drive the basket is unsurpassed."

Also in the forecourt, 6'-7" junior Adam Hearlson will be playing at the forward/center spot and will be counted upon to score from inside and to block out down low. Hearlson also averaged 5.3 points per game last season and Hirst will count on either him, 6'-4" senior Trevor Thissel, or 6'-5" senior Carlos Nicasio to score inside.

Returning veteran Dustin Illingworth, who scored 99 points in his first 22 games as a freshman, but played solidly, has improved his game over the summer and will make a solid contribution to this team. JV MVP's Gary Robinson and Alan Limon, will also be asked to step up and contribute this season. James Hernandes is also new, and he's got a nice outside shot out to about 20' and can hit threes with regularity.  Hernandes, a 6-2 senior, is "the purest shooter we have," Hirst told the Times. Mark Ward, the Washington transfer, adds some backcourt depth, while 6'-3" senior Scott Dore has a tremendous vertical leap and can play well above the rim. Henry Galdamez, a 5'-8" senior guard will also contribute some valuable time coming off the bench.

This is a young and inexperienced team, and Larry Hirst will have his hands full trying to adjust and mold this group into a contender. There's no doubt that had Loo and Sense not quit the team, that they would have challenged Santa Maragarita, El Toro, Woodbridge and CDM for the League title. But as Gene Hackman, the coach in the movie "Hoosiers" said when introducing his team to the school assembly without the star player who refused to play (until he changed his mind later in the film . . . but you should go watch the movie. . . now. . . really), this is not about who Newport Harbor isn't. . . It's about who they are and what they can become.

So, ladies and gentlemen, we introduce to you the Newport Harbor Sailors basketball team.

Not the ones who aren't playing, but those who will ; the ones spending their time practicing, sweating, training and putting in the hard work to win a League Title and advance to the playoffs. And we wish them good luck.

The Swish Award

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