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Boys' Basketball: Top-seeded Westlake holds off Tars

Newport Harbor leads with 6:45 left, but Warriors pull away to deny hosts supreme upset.

February 19, 2013|By Barry Faulkner

NEWPORT BEACH — The rivet-rattling roar of the home Newport Harbor High boys' basketball crowd was as resounding as the effort that inspired it Tuesday.

But the collective groans of frustration down the stretch by Sailors' rooters served as a symphony of survival for top-seeded Westlake in the second round of the CIF Southern Section 2A playoffs.

The underdog Sailors (14-14), coming off the program's first postseason victory in six seasons, nearly kept pace with the Warriors (24-4), who used points off turnovers and some deadly three-point shooting to prevail, 87-78.

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Newport Harbor, which came in with a season-best-tying four-game winning streak, seemed to feed off the crowd on its way to trailing only 39-35 at halftime.

The Tars pulled even on a dunk by 7-foot senior Kevin Rakestraw midway through the third period and used an 8-0 run to begin the fourth quarter to claim a 62-61 advantage with 6:45 left.

But Westlake, which like Newport Harbor, got all its scoring from its starters, countered with a 10-0 burst that began and ended with three-pointers by junior guard Larry Bush, to regain control.

Newport Harbor had a chance to cut into the deficit a handful of times. But its shots, including repeated attempts from three-point range, failed to find the bottom of the net, prompting the hopeful home fans to groan in unison with each costly miss.

"We played hard," Newport Harbor Coach Bob Torribio said. "But to pull off the upset, you have to knock down the big shots. We had a few good looks there, we thought, and if those go in, it's a different game. We made a few to keep us in it, but to beat a great team like that, that is going to score about every time they touch the ball, you really have to knock down shots, and we missed a couple good ones."

Bush and Marcos Soto, a 6-8 junior, missed more seldom for the visitors. Bush connected on five of eight three-point attempts, while Soto, operating primarily from the corners, sank four of five.

Westlake senior scoring leader Grant Lozoya, who came in averaging 18 points per game, picked up three fouls in the first period and had just two points through the first 26 minutes.

But Soto, who finished with 28 points, and Bush, who chipped in 21, more than doubled their combined scoring averages (23.2 per contest) to eliminate the Sailors, who matched their season-best scoring output.

"We knew it was pick your poison against those guys, but we thought we picked the right poison," Torribio said.

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