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Boys basketball: Untapped potential

November 25, 2000

Barry Faulkner

NEWPORT BEACH - Newport Harbor High boys basketball coach Larry

Hirst lost more assistant coaches than offensive weapons from last year's

18-9 squad. So, it's easy to see why the sixth-year head man is excited

about the prospects for his 2000-01 edition.

"I'm very happy with what I see on the floor and how we've

progressed," said Hirst, who bade farewell to three former assistants,

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but only one consistent scorer, four-year varsity performer Dustin

Illingworth.

Senior Aaron Yarnal, who averaged 15.4 points en route to

All-Newport-Mesa District and first-team All-Sea View League recognition

as a junior, is a returning stater, as is junior point guard Greg Perrine

(4.9 ppg).

Additionally, 6-foot-6 junior Tony Melum is receiving recruiting

interest from Utah, Oregon State, and Loyola Marymount, after a sophomore

season in which he missed nine games, but averaged 9.6 points off the

bench. Melum scored a career-high 24 in the Tars' CIF Southern Section

Division II-AA second-round playoff loss to Brea Olinda. He scored in

double figures in 9 of 18 games, after recovering from a broken wrist.

Illingworth, who shared Sea View League and district player of the

year honors, averaged 19.8 points and more than eight rebounds.

But, Hirst believes, the Sailors will be more balanced than last year,

when opponents swarmed Illingworth and Yarnal, daring others to beat

them.

"As a coaching staff, we're real excited about being able to give

teams some different looks and not be so predictable," Hirst said.

With Perrine, second-team all-league last season, running the show,

Yarnal shooting and slashing to the basket and Melum facing defenders on

the wing, the Sailors could prove a difficult challenge for any defense.

"It would be very difficult for one player to take over Dustin's

scoring load," Hirst said. "But, if everybody takes about 20 or 30% of

it, we should be all right.

"The most exciting thing is, this team has so much potential to be

tapped. This group should get a lot better as the season goes on."

Erik Peterson, a 6-3 junior up from the junior varsity, is a candidate

to seize a starting spot, while 6-4 senior returner Jordan Spigner is

another probable starter, according to Hirst.

Peterson has shown sound defensive fundamentals in the paint, while

Spigner looks to blossom after learning from the bench last season.

Spigner led the JV in scoring as a sophomore, but scored just 20 points

in 14 games in his debut varsity campaign.

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