A basketball hoop at a high school in a file photo. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
LAS FLORES, Calif.—With spring and summer football, fall baseball, and myriad other off-season demands on high school athletes these days, traditional multi-sport participants are increasingly less common.
Newport Harbor’s boys’ basketball team, however, is something of a throwback.
With a roster full of players who are also active in other endeavors, the Sailors took an 11–2 record into a Dec. 22 matchup against Alemany of Mission Hills in the Western Tournament in Anaheim.
The team stretched its winning streak to eight consecutive games the night before with a 63–53 victory over host Tesoro in the 24th annual Orange County North-South Challenge.
“We have a lot of athletes,” Coach Robert Torribio told The Epoch Times. “We have a lot of volleyball players who can jump out of the gym. We have a football player. We have some baseball players. We have track athletes. We just have a lot of athletes that like competing.”
The poster boy for Newport Harbor is 6-foot-4 senior Riggs Guy, who scored a team-high 19 points against Tesoro in the opener of the four-game, eight-team event that honored longtime Orange County high school basketball coach Tim O’Brien, who died in 2020.
Guy delivered most of his offense from close range, largely on a series of slashing drives to the basket.
“It’s funny, because this is his second sport,” Mr. Torribio said. “He’s a volleyball kid, going to UC-Santa Barbara. He plays basketball just for fun. He’s pretty darn good just doing it for fun.”
In addition to the enjoyment factor, and staying in shape for volleyball pursuits, Guy has another objective.
“I’m here to win,” he told the Epoch Times. “I want to help the team, and I feel like we can do really well this season.”
Guy is one of four returning starters from last season, when the Sailors finished 22–9. The group includes his younger brother, 6-foot-3 sophomore Gavin Guy, 6-foot-5 senior Dash Bastedo, and 6-foot-3 junior Jack Berry.
“Those four played a lot of games last year, have a lot of experience,” Mr. Torribio said. “They might be juniors and sophomores, and two seniors, respectively, but they’re older than that with all the games they’ve played. They play hard, and don’t let things bother them.”
Newport Harbor received a huge boost against Tesoro from reserve Dean Davis, a 5-foot-10 junior. He scored 12 points, including eight in a row in the final 2 ½ minutes, when the Sailors finally shook off a persistent Titans comeback bid.
“I’ve been coming off the bench the last couple of games,” Davis told The Epoch Times. “I’ve just been trying to do my best, keep working, keep showing the coaches what I can do. The more I can help the team, the more playing time I get.”
The development of Davis, who did not see a lot of action last season, and the addition of 6-foot-4 sophomore Cole Leinart after the conclusion of football season have significantly enhanced Newport Harbor’s depth.
Leinart, the son of former NFL and USC quarterback Matt Leinart, who won the 2004 Heisman Trophy, transferred in from Mater Dei of Santa Ana in September.
“He falls right in line with what we try to be—competitive, unselfish, and play with joy,” Mr. Torribio said. “Those are the three things we preach, and that’s what he does. He’s competitive, he’s unselfish, and he loves being out here playing basketball with us. You do those three things, and you’re going to be a great teammate.”
The Sailors, of course, are pointing toward their Jan. 10 Surf League opener against Los Alamitos. As Mr. Torribio pointed out, all four teams in the league are off to strong starts, with Los Alamitos at 10–3, Edison 12–2, and Fountain Valley 8–4.
From Riggs Guy’s perspective, there was never any question about Newport Harbor’s talent level.
“I think the main thing is all of us work hard,” he said. “We show up every day, we’re efficient, and we play super-hard. I knew we had potential, but I didn’t know how we were going to implement it. I have high expectations after seeing how we practice and how we’ve done so far.”