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Sailors try to adjust

Boys' Basketball

Newport Harbor struggles in its first game without its head coach Hirst, who resigned earlier in the day for personal reasons.

January 11, 2012|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza

NEWPORT BEACH — Bob Torribio is the head coach of the Newport Harbor High boys' basketball team again. He has been in this position before at his alma mater, stepping in for longtime coach Larry Hirst twice in the past three seasons.

In the previous times, Hirst left the program for a season three years ago to spend more time with his family, and then last season to take care of himself after collapsing because of dehydration during a game.

Each time, Torribio, an assistant, always knew Hirst would return as the coach, and he did.

This time around, Torribio doesn't have a firm answer as to whether Hirst will lead the Sailors again.

Before Newport Harbor played its Sunset League home opener on Wednesday, Hirst stepped down as coach for the remainder of the season because of personal reasons, said Michael Vossen, the school's principal.

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Hirst's departure in his 16th season in charge of the Sailors came as a surprise to Torribio. No one at the school wanted to talk about why Hirst decided to walk away before the Sailors played their second league game.

The result against Marina was the same as the previous nine games for Newport Harbor. The losing continued for the Sailors, who fell, 55-42.

"Tough circumstances," said Torribio, who has been involved as a coach at Newport Harbor for 10 seasons. "We got a lot of good kids in that locker room. We just got to keep going.

"Tough one tonight. We got to find a way to score more than 42 points. That's been our biggest problem."

The toughest part to junior Brian Robbs was learning Hirst was gone. He said it took the first quarter for it to sink in that Hirst wasn't guiding the Sailors (5-12, 0-2 in league) anymore.

The coaching move appeared to affect the Sailors' play. Marina (9-9, 1-1) led, 18-6, after eight minutes.

"He's our head coach and he was just basically … like our leader. It's tough," Robbs said. "The thing I'm going to miss about him is just basically his presence in our gym."

Robbs said he would welcome Hirst, 50, back as the coach.

The same cannot be said for some players on the team. A source familiar with the situation said three players planned to quit the team if there wasn't a coaching change made.

Players grew frustrated with Hirst's old-school coaching style and attitude, the constant losing, and for not scheduling the Battle of the Bay rivalry game against Corona del Mar for the second straight season, said the source.

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