NEWPORT BEACH — The Surf League boys basketball opener between Los Alamitos and Newport Harbor on Wednesday featured a Sailors team looking to extend its 15-game winning streak taking on a Griffins squad hoping to rebound from a tough defeat four days earlier.
The matchup, which featured two teams ranked among the Top 10 in Orange County, went to the Griffins, who overcame a dreadful four-minute stretch early in the third quarter, pulled ahead late and came away with a 74-64 victory.
Four players scored in double figures for the No. 5 Griffins (16-4, 1-0): Liam Gray (17), Dilayehu Wempe (15), Trent Minter (11) and Samori Guyness (10).
“We were determined to come into league play and start out with a win, especially on the road because you can’t go out on many road games and win because it’s pretty hard,” Minter said. “But we were determined, we played well as a team.”
Jack Berry scored 21 to lead the No.10 Sailors (18-3, 0-1), who had jumped several spots in the county rankings over the course of their winning streak.
After leading by five at the half, the Griffins went scoreless over the first four minutes of the third quarter to fall behind by seven.
The Griffins came back and closed out the quarter on a 9-2 run to get within two points heading into the fourth.
Los Alamitos tied the score three times in the opening minutes of the fourth and pulled ahead 62-60 on a basket from sophomore Tyler Lopez.
The key sequence came with just under two minutes remaining when Jordan Taylor hit a 3-pointer to give the Griffins a 67-62 lead.
The Sailors missed on the ensuing possession and then Kedric Delany scored to give the Griffins a seven-point lead with one minute remaining.
From there, it was just a matter of taking care of the basketball and making free throws in the final seconds.
“We play a style that tries to wear people down,” Los Alamitos coach Nate Berger said. “We were hoping in the third quarter that people start to get tired, and we lucked out tonight with some turnovers and our ability to get out and score to finish the quarter. That really brought us back in the game in like a two-minute burst it felt like. So, that’s kind of the hope of what we’re trying to do and we lucked out that it came to fruition.”
Cole Leinart, who scored 20 for Newport Harbor, said the Griffins played a style the Sailors hadn’t seen this season.
“They pressed the whole game,” Leinart said. “So, it’s kind of like a different vibe, a different energy that we had to bring.”
Los Alamitos earned the victory after an 82-76 loss Saturday to Marina, a team that the Sailors had beaten, 61-47, on Jan. 3.