Hirst's Tars (20-6) are attempting to avenge a 74-61 loss to the Spartans
(25-3) in last year's CIF Division I-A quarterfinals.
Villa Park also defeated Newport, 59-51, in the Sailors' George
Yardley Summer Cage Classic in July.
"There won't be a whole lot of time spent preparing, because both
teams know so much about each other," Hirst said.
Both coaches acknowledge plenty of similarities.
"It should be a pretty good chess match, because we are pretty similar
teams," Hirst said. "It could be a very interesting game from a tactical
standpoint, just to see the adjustments made by both staffs and how both
sets of kids will try to interpret those instructions and carry out the
Villa Park Coach Kevin Reynolds, who in his seventh year at the helm
has turned the Spartans into a perennial Orange County power, said he
sees a lot of his team in the Sailors.
"We're mirror images," Reynolds said. "I think it will be a matter of
who will show up and play well, because we're very similar. Both (the
Sailors) and ourselves tend to beat teams up with our size inside, so
this will be a nice challenge."
The Spartans, champions of the Century League, have beaten teams up
with greater consistency than the Tars. Villa Park's average margin of
victory has been nearly 21 points, including a 79-46 first-round
trouncing of Chaparral Friday.
The Spartans's three losses have come to Capistrano Valley, Mater Dei
and Century rival El Modena. They are on a seven-game winning streak.
The Sailors, only the fourth Newport team in 72 varsity seasons to
reach the 20-win plateau, are trying to join last year's squad as one of
only four Harbor teams to notch two postseason wins.
Villa Park's weapons include 6-foot-8 senior center Brice Prather, 6-9
junior Sean Phaler, 6-2 junior point guard Corey Miller and 6-5 junior
swing man Kyle Hogan.
Prather is averaging 18.3 points and around nine rebounds per game,
while Phaler, who has 146 three-pointers this season, is chipping in 17.9
points and around eight rebounds per contest.
Miller, leading the county at more than eight assists per game,