It was all going well for Huntington Beach a week ago, having won nine of its first 11 boys' basketball games.
But now the Oilers are in their first stumble of the season. A 49-41 loss Thursday night at home to Newport Harbor was Huntington Beach's third consecutive defeat. And with Sunset League play starting in eight days, the Oilers do not want the stumble to turn into a pratfall.
The Sailors (8-5), coming off a tournament in Rhode Island, played alert defense, got relatively balanced scoring led by guard Matt Jameson's 12 points, and stayed in front once they got the lead for good (18-16) halfway through the second quarter.
"Any time you can beat a Sunset League team you have to be happy," said Coach Larry Hirst, who is getting his team ready for its Sea View League opener next week. "I think that trip helped bring us together. We were aggressive, and when they became aggressive we held our composure. Plus I saw some guys step up tonight who got experience last week back east."
On the other side, Oiler Coach Roy Miller was not pleased by the shaky passes and stretches of tentative play.
"We had 19 turnovers tonight and that's way too many," Miller said. "They didn't even have to press us. Most of them were unforced."
Miller, who wants his team to evolve from a primarily perimeter shooting team to one that can also score inside, is also hoping to get players besides Chris Basich involved in the offense.
Basich led all scorers with 18, but only two of the other Oilers who scored had more than one basket. Nor were they able to get to the free-throw line, making four of six attempts while the Sailors made 15 of 23 free throws.
"We have a couple of practice days to work on some things," Basich said. "I know the change won't happen overnight; but there are some things we have to do better."
Still, the Oilers--who trailed by as much as 10 in the second half but were down only 35-32 after three quarters--had a good chance to get back in the game, and perhaps grab a victory.
With 2 minutes 9 seconds left in the game, Huntington Beach again trailed by three, 42-39, after a free throw by John Davidson. But Newport Harbor's Greg Wertman was left alone in the left corner and made a three-pointer to put the lead back up to six.
The Oilers made only one basket in the final 1:52.
"You know the season goes in spurts," Miller said. "There will be times when you play real well, and then there are times when nothing goes right. You don't have an idea when those games are coming."
In another nonleague game:
El Dorado 57, Santa Ana Valley 55--Mark Baranick made two free throws that gave El Dorado a two-point lead with 35 seconds left as the Golden Hawks (13-2) escaped an upset attempt by Santa Ana Valley.
The Falcons (6-7), led by Tim Werdel who scored 18 points, was ahead 47-40 at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
With a minute left Mike Gartner made a layup for El Dorado and tied the score, 55-55. Baranick then had a steal and was fouled to set up the free throws.
Gartner had 16 points and 13 rebounds for El Dorado. Ryan Ayer scored 15 points for the Golden Hawks.
In the Pasadena Poly tournament:
Capistrano Valley Christian 64, South Bay Lutheran 61--Despite being outscored, 24-15, in the fourth quarter, Capistrano Valley Christian (8-2) held on for the first-round victory.
Capistrano Valley Christian was led by Andrew Jennings, who scored a game-high 26 points. Teammate Jeff Postlmayr added 13 points.