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Sailors clinch Sunset crown

Girls' Basketball

Newport Harbor takes the outright Sunset League title after outlasting Edison on Senior Night.

February 08, 2012|By Matt Szabo

NEWPORT BEACH — Emotions ran high on Senior Night for the Newport Harbor High girls' water polo team.

Senior captain Presley Pender said Coach Bill Barnett even got a bit emotional before Wednesday night's big Sunset League finale against Edison.

"He told us he's never coached a team that's worked so well together and played as a team," Pender said. "That's a huge compliment. I mean, he's a legend and he's telling us that ... He started to tear up. It was a sentimental moment. That's such a great compliment."

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The Sailors definitely worked well together once the game began. The class of 2012 proved it was going to accept nothing less than an outright league title.

Newport Harbor earned it after outlasting Edison, 8-6, at Newport Harbor High, clinching the top placing from the league in the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs that begin next week. Los Alamitos finished second in league, with the Chargers in third.

The Sailors' seniors were definitely heard from. They scored seven of the team's eight goals, including a game-high four from Maddy McLaren, two from Pender and one from Sophie Leveque. They helped Newport Harbor win its fifth Sunset League crown in six years.

"All of the seniors stepped up," Pender said. "We were like, 'OK, we've been working four years for this, and this is our year.' I'm just so happy. It's an amazing feeling."

Newport Harbor (22-4, 5-0 in league) never trailed in claiming its 11th straight victory. The Sailors, ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division I coaches' poll, came out strong in the second half after leading No. 8 Edison (15-11, 3-2) by just a goal at intermission.

Pender scored on a lob from the left. Then, her shot from five meters trickled under the left arm of Edison senior goalie Sydni Estrella. After junior Elissia Schilling scored bar-in off of a foul, the Sailors had a much more comfortable 7-4 advantage.

The three goals came in less than two minutes.

"We were talking about what it's going to take to beat Newport, and I sincerely believe we needed to play a perfect game," Edison Coach Diggy Riley said. "I think we played pretty darn close for about 80% of it. But the great thing about Newport, they will score on those 20% mistakes that you make. It's points off turnovers, right? The NBA covers it all the time. Well, they were scoring points off our turnovers, and we just can't have that happen."

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