LIONS, VIKINGS, AND RAMS: OH MY! (Plus Hornets, Trojans, and Lancers too)
West Division East Division
1. Rogers 1. Auburn
2. Curtis 2. Wilson
3. Lakes 3. Enumclaw
4. Puyallup 4. Auburn Mountainview
The South Sound playoffs are played out to 8th place so each team is guaranteed at least 3 games. The objective is simple: Survive and Advance. However, the first round might be better described as conquer and advance. The higher seeds have a definite advantage in skill and experience. Upsets in the first round are unlikely with one possible exception. More on that a little later.
The Lions of Auburn Mountainview surprised themselves this year as the young team proved early on in the season that they were a playoff contender. A great accomplishment, but as the East #4 seed, they are no match against a powerful Rogers squad that exudes experience, balance, offense and defense. The Lions will be able to build upon the experience for next year, but this year look for Rogers to advance to the semis.
Auburn has had a stellar season and earned the #1 seed in the East. Congratulations to Puyallup who is the #4 seed out of the West, but the Vikings are in no position to make much noise in the playoffs this year. Look for the Auburn Trojans to advance easily to the semis.
The Hornets of Enumclaw have had a great season and proved that they can compete with both Auburn and Wilson. However, the #3 seed does not help their cause this year as the Hornets open up against a mighty Curtis team. The Hornets fell hard to Curtis just a few weeks ago and it's unlikely they can do much to overcome the Vikings now. Look for Curtis to advance to the semis.
The possible exception mentioned earlier is the #2 vs. #3 matchup between Wilson and Lakes. This looks to be the most competitive game of the first round. The Lakes Lancers are young and have not had much success against ranked teams so far, but the Lancers keep getting a little better each week. Wilson finished strong but have showed some inconsistency this year. This game has the potential to be close, but Wilson should advance to the semis.
Assuming the upper seeds prevail in the first round, the semis promise to be much more competitive. As the #1 and #2 seeds collide, the pressure will be building and it will be interesting to see which teams will handle it. Auburn as the East #1 seed should be matched against the West #2 Curtis. For the Trojans it has been a great ride, but Curtis is bringing too much power, balance and defense. Look for the Vikings to advance to the finals.
A potential Rogers-Wilson matchup should be a great game. Rogers will be the favorite in this Battle of the Rams. Rogers has all the tools to win a championship, but if you are looking for an upset, this is the game. Its ironic that Wilson who has the most difficult matchup in the first round also poses the most difficult matchup in the semis. The excitement and pressure will be intense and Wilson has the tools to hang around in this game if their defense can step up. This one will be a nail biter but look for the Rams to advance to the final. (I mean Rogers)
The traits of a high school water polo champion include senior leadership, teamwork, balance, high power offense and a strong defense. Both Rogers and Curtis exhibit these traits in abundance. Barring any upsets, this will be the Championship game. The team that can handle the pressure and minimize their defensive breakdowns will win, but it's too close for me to call.
Good luck to all the teams. You've all earned the right to continue your season this weekend. ENJOY EVERY MINUTE OF IT!