HUNTINGTON BEACH — Newport Harbor High played in its longest boys' basketball game of the season on Friday. The game at Edison went past four quarters, right into overtime.
After 36 grueling minutes, Coach Bob Torribio said the player who beat his team again didn't make that many plays against his Sailors.
AJ Garrity just made the play that counted.
He seems to have a knack of coming through in the clutch and breaking the Sailors' hearts in the waning seconds of Sunset League games. He did it in the league opener earlier this month, converting a layup at the buzzer to win at Newport Harbor.
Three weeks later, and at home this time, Garrity finished the Sailors once more. He knocked down a shot near the free-throw line with five seconds left, giving the Chargers the go-ahead basket and a 60-58 overtime win at home.
Torribio was in no mood to talk afterward. He wanted a minute to cool off. He really couldn't believe what just happened.
His Sailors had this game. They led by one, after Robbie Rettig converted a three-point play with 15.5 seconds to go.
The lead didn't last, thanks to Garrity, who came off the bench and finished with 11 points. No. 1 for Edison wasn't even the team's first option at the end. When the Chargers quickly ran their offense, Garrity became the go-to guy.
They put him in position to win the game and he pulled it off.
"He made a play there at the end, threw the ball over [our] 7-footer, [Kevin Rakestraw], tough shot," Torribio said. "I'm sure … everybody's real happy on the Edison side."
The Chargers improved to 4-2 in league and moved within one game of first place, as Fountain Valley dropped its first league contest. Edison shares second place with defending league champion Los Alamitos and Huntington Beach.
The Chargers had another player come off the bench and contribute in a major way. Nick Rubio finished with a game-high 19 points and five three-pointers. The junior made three threes in the third quarter, allowing the Chargers to cut a 16-point deficit to two.
"We kept telling the guys they were going to heat up," said Torribio, whose team dominated from the start, only to see Edison roar back and trail, 42-40, going into the fourth quarter.
With four league games left, the Sailors are nowhere near the top of the standings.
They are in fifth place at 1-5. If the two close games against Edison had gone the Sailors' way, they're in contention. Torribio gave the reasons why Newport Harbor isn't in the race for first.
"You're not going to win the Sunset League if you don't rebound the ball," Torribio said. "You're not going to win the Sunset League if you don't make layups or free throws."
Four missed free throws by Newport Harbor in the four-minute overtime quarter hurt its chances against Edison.
The missed opportunities from the charity stripe could've given the Sailors the lead each time. Edison took advantage of its trips to the line, making three of five free throws in overtime.
Twenty-two seconds after Newport Harbor failed to break a tie at the free-throw line, Garrity hit two free throws. Edison went ahead, 57-55, with 29.8 seconds left.
Eight seconds later, Garrity had an opportunity to extend the lead. But the 75% free-throw shooter missed the first free throw in a one-and-one situation, and the Sailors grabbed the rebound.