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Newport hires Torribio

Boys' Basketball

Former assistant, player takes over boys' basketball program that has been through recent turmoil.

May 15, 2012|By David Carrillo PeƱaloza
(Daily Pilot File…)

The first time Bob Torribio stepped in as coach of the Newport Harbor High boys' basketball team was four years ago.

He joked back then that he was just keeping the chair warm for Larry Hirst, who took the season off to spend more time with his family.

As it would turn out, Hirst took a leave of absence twice more in the next three seasons. Each time, Torribio filled in, taking the coaching hot seat once again.

Now Torribio, 35, finds himself back in that familiar chair, but this time the seat is more permanent: He's the new coach at Newport Harbor.

As Hirst's right-hand man throughout the past seven seasons, he's the right candidate to take over, Athletic Director Mike Zimmerman said Tuesday.

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The announcement comes almost two months after Hirst resigned after receiving criminal threats against him and his wife. The threats, which both the Huntington Beach and Newport Beach police departments have been investigating, led Newport Harbor Principal Michael Vossen to suspend the program for three weeks.

Torribio said Hirst gave him his blessing, though Torribio made sure to point out how he's different than his predecessor.

"I like Coach Hirst. He's a good dad, a great role model, mentor and friend, but there's a philosophical difference," said Torribio, who also praised Hirst for becoming the program's winningest coach and, at one time, leading it to 12 straight CIF Southern Section playoff appearances. "We've got to get the program back to where it needs to be. We've got to find a solution."

Torribio beat out two other finalists: Darryl Hilliard, the junior varsity coach and a varsity assistant at Back Bay rival Corona del Mar; and Jason Carey, the JV coach and a varsity assistant at Newport Harbor, said sources familiar with the situation, who asked for anonymity.

They said what put Torribio over the top was that he already is on campus — he teaches history — and has been involved with the program as both a player and coach.

"It never hurt that he was [a teacher]," said Zimmerman, who couldn't comment on the other candidates.

Hilliard and Carey are both walk-on coaches. Carey has only spent the last couple of seasons with the Sailors.

Torribio was around for 11 of Hirst's 16 seasons with the Sailors. The previous four seasons at Newport Harbor have been far from successful.

During that stretch, the Sailors have gone 6-34 in Sunset League play and have finished near the bottom every season. They have missed the postseason three times in the past four seasons.

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