Monday, November 12, 2012

ALL-STATE TEAMS from the State Championship Tournament


Reed Hendrickson  -  Bellevue
Marco Stanchi  -  Bellevue
George French  -  Bellevue
Porter Sale  -  Curtis
Nolan Peterson  -  Curtis
Lee Griffin  -  Newport
Sam Peterson  -  Mercer Island


Scott Bowers  -  Bellevue
Stuart McClelland  -  Bellevue
Chandler Arrington  -  Curtis
Griffin Collins  -  Curtis
Will Helmer  -  Newport
Mack Barry  -  Newport
David Rudokas  -  Mercer Island


Liam Naughton  -  Bellevue
Giles McIntire  -  Curtis
Dimitri Popoff  -  Newport
Connor Gullstad  -  Mercer Island
Thomas Henline  -  Auburn Riverside
Matty Benabid  -  Auburn Riverside
Adam Benabid  -  Auburn Riverside
Hunter Arnold  -  Auburn Mountainview
Brady Gardner  -  Auburn Mountainview
Bennon VanHoof - Enumclaw
Thomas Petersen  -  Enumclaw
Aaron Beck  -  Puyallup


Lee Griffin  -  Newport


Reed Hendrickson  -  Bellevue


Farrah Kunkel  -  Newport

Congratulations to these players and all the Washington high school water polo players who put in the time and effort and continue to toil in anonymity.
Polo On!

Final 2012 Boys High School Water Polo Rankings

  1. Bellevue
  2. Curtis
  3. Newport
  4. Mercer Island
  5. Auburn Riverside
  6. Auburn Mountainview
  7. Enumclaw
  8. Puyallup
  9. Lakes
  10. Peninsula

Defending a championship is difficult business.  After last year, Bellevue didn't seem likely to be a repeat champion simply because they graduated so many seniors that made up the majority of their scoring.  Apparently this year's team didn't get the message, or if they did, they refused to accept it.  Bellevue cruised through group play with wins over Lakes and Enumclaw and then dispatched Auburn Mountainview in the quarterfinals.  Newport posed stiff competition in the semifinals but came up short and Bellevue advanced to the finals.  Championships might be decided in the last game of the season, but they are usually earned with sweat, dedication, and commitment between seasons.  It's a trait of a winning program and a testimony to this young Wolverine team.  Even with focus and dedication, there are surprises and obstacles to overcome along the way, like having a key player fall ill and miss the quarterfinals and semifinals. Champions find a way to adapt and overcome.  Teammates rise to the occasion and support each other.  In the finals,  Bellevue's defense shut down Curtis in the first half and the Wolverine offense took advantage of man up situations to secure victory.  Bellevue won with teamwork, execution of the fundamentals, a balanced attack, and defense. (It also helps when the Defensive MVP of the tournament is your goalie who can force the best of shooters to rethink their shots).  Congratulations to the Bellevue Wolverines for doing it the right way, winning the 2012 State Championship and earning the No. 1 ranking.  The Curtis Vikings came to the State Tournament with expectations of winning and looked strong with early wins in group play and in the quarterfinals against Auburn Riverside. A semi-final match up against Mercer Island had the early morning crowd pumped up with anticipation as the Vikings came out strong with a lockdown defense that shut out the Islanders in the first half and had them reeling. Mercer Island tried to make a game out of it in the second half but Curtis was able to execute under pressure to secure the win and an appointment in the championship game.  In the final, the Vikings were never able to get their offense on track and fell short of winning the title, but they do move up to No. 2 in the final rankings. ---  (At Curtis, the water polo program is about tradition, commitment, hard work, team development and winning. Most years, anything short of a championship is a disappointment, but in many respects the 2012 campaign may have been their greatest season.  Senior captain #15 Porter Sale is a four year starter and ended his junior season with hopes of leading his team to the title for his senior season, but life sometimes gets in the way of one's plans.  You see, Porter was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma last spring and his senior water polo season seemed implausible. Porter completed his chemo treatments late last summer and by late September was back in the water even though he was still receiving radiation treatment.  At Curtis, captain requirements include leading by example, encouraging teammates, earning respect, and exhibiting a positive attitude.  Porter, you did your job beyond anyone's expectations as your teammates rallied together to support you and make a memorable run at the 2012 title.  Porter, you are a true champion!  Thank you for 4 years of great water polo moments and a lifetime of inspiration.) --- Newport entered the state Tournament as a #6 seed based more on reputation than results (just sayin').  It turns out that the #6 seed was a little too low.  Auburn Mountainview had the misfortune of having Newport in their bracket and ran into a Newport team that looked more like a #1 seed.  Newport started slow in the quarterfinals before overwhelming Enumclaw in the second half and advancing to meet Bellevue in the semis.  In the semis, Newport tried to close a 4 point gap in the 4th quarter but fell a point short in their quest.  The most difficult game to play at State is the game for 3rd place (trust me). It was a close contest with Mercer Island all the way, but Newport held on to the lead throughout to finish 3rd at State and No. 3 in the rankings.  Okay Mercer Island, I understand if you are a little disappointed, but considering how far you have come from last season, it is a pretty incredible climb back to elite status.  I'm sure you would like to have that first half back against Curtis and there is no shame is losing to Newport.  It was a very good season for the Islanders and they finish No. 4.  Next year? Maybe.  (Kudos for your game tweets).  For most of the season, some Auburn Riverside fans took issue with their teams' ranking.  It seems most felt that the Ravens deserved to be No. 5 instead of No. 6.  Turns out they were right, but eventually the rankings usually catch up to reality.  A brutal draw placed Auburn Riverside in a bracket game against Mercer Island and a quarterfinal against Curtis where the Ravens' title hopes were dashed.  Not all was lost though;  the Ravens ended the tournament with an overtime victory over the Auburn Mountainview to earn the No. 5 ranking and bragging rights in A-Town.  Well Auburn Mountainview, that places you at No. 6 to end the season.  I know it wasn't what you were hoping for and you probably could have finished higher if Newport would have been in a different bracket, but look how far you've come in the last three years. Your spirit is infectious.  A division title and a ranking as high as #3 for most of the season is pretty respectable.  Enumclaw started the tournament with a 1 point victory over Lakes and then ran head on into the triple whammy of Bellevue, Newport, and Auburn Mountainview.  Ouch!  The Hornets recovered to end the tournament with a 10-6 victory over Puyallup to earn 7th place at State and the No. 7 ranking.  The No. 8 ranking goes to the Puyallup Vikings.  Puyallup opened the tournament with a convincing win over Peninsula before running into an unenviable string of higher seed opponents.  Despite dropping their last four games, the Vikings were competitive throughout the tournament making Mercer Island work hard and coming close to upsetting Auburn Riverside.  Lakes and Peninsula have had a competitive rivalry all season.  They split their regular season games and Peninsula advanced directly to State by winning a tiebreaker with a one point overtime victory over the Lancers.  It only seemed appropriate that these two teams would play one another for 9th place at State.  In another overtime thriller, Lakes prevailed to bump up one spot to No. 9 in the final rankings.  Lakes finished the tournament with 2 wins and narrowly missed out advancing to the quarterfinals in a 1-point loss Enumclaw. The Peninsula Seahawks dropped their first two games at State but recovered for a win over Bainbridge to earn a shot at 9th Place.  Though the Seahawks had to settle for the 10th, they continued to show improvement and finish the season ranked No. 10.
The State Tournament is not just about determining a champion. It's also about showcasing and celebrating high school water polo in Washington. For our water polo community in Washington, it is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. Thank you to all the players, coaches, referees, officials and volunteers that make it all possible. It's been a great ride!

"If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don't care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we're gonna be winners."
Coach Dale, "Hoosiers"

The intention of this blog is simply to help create more awareness of high school water polo in Washington. These rankings are unofficial and are in no way intended to diminish the accomplishments of any team. I encourage every team to celebrate their season and accomplishments in their respective divisions and state tournament. Hopefully any bias has been minimal and has been balanced by my ignorance.

Polo On!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

2012 Boys Water Polo State Championships

Bellevue defeats Curtis to win the 2012 Washington State Boys High School Water Polo Championship

Saturday Results


Mercer Island   7    vs.     Curtis  11

Newport 10            vs.     Bellevue  11


11th - 12th      Bainbridge  8      vs.    Emerald Ridge  13

9th - 10th        Peninsula  12      vs.     Lakes  13    OT

7th - 8th          Puyallup  6          vs.     Enumclaw  10

5th - 6th         Aub Riverside  7  vs.    Aub Mountainview  6   OT

3rd - 4th         Mercer Island  8   vs.     Newport  9  

Championship Game

    Curtis  3      vs.     Bellevue   7    

Polo On!  

Friday, November 9, 2012

Quarterfinal Scores for Friday 11/9

Mercer Island  11  vs.     Puyallup  4

Curtis  9                vs.     Auburn Riverside  6

Newport  16          vs.     Enumclaw  2

Bellevue   10         vs.     Auburn Mountainview   5

The quarterfinal matches are in the books and the teams advancing to the semifinals are set.  Mercer Island used an explosive 1st quarter to establish a 5 - 0 lead over Puyallup.  The Vikings were able to slow the Islander attack in the 2nd and 3rd quarter, but could not close the gap falling to Mercer Island 11 - 4.  Overall, a good effort by Puyallup but they could not overcome a stingy Islander defense.   The Curtis Vikings jumped on Auburn Riverside for 4 goals in the 1st quarter and increased their lead to 9 - 3 by the end of the 3rd.  The Ravens tallied 3 goals in the 4th, but it was too late.  Curtis looks strong heading into the their semifinal showdown with Mercer Island.  Enumclaw got off to a good start and had a 1 - 0 lead over Newport at the end of the 1st quarter and was only down 3 - 1 at the half.  The second half was a much different story as the Knights dominated the Hornets and came away with a 16-2 victory.  The defending champion Bellevue Wolverines got off to a fast start with a 4-1 lead over Auburn Mountainview at the end of the 1st quarter.  A strong defensive effort made it difficult for the Lions the rest of the way and the last hopes for a water polo title in A-Town were dashed.  Bellevue advances to the semifinals with a 10 - 5 victory.   League rivals Bellevue and Newport collide in the second semifinal match.  If it's anything like their last game, it will be a memorable playoff classic.

These promise to be the most competitive semifinals in recent memory so come early to get a good seat.  Defense should rule the day.  All four remaining teams appear evenly matched, so it will come down to focus and execution down the stretch to determine the 2012 Champion.  Can't wait!!

Polo On!

Consolation Games

Puyallup  9           vs.     Auburn Riverside  10

Enumclaw  5        vs.     Auburn Mountainview   8 

Semifinal Games for Saturday 11/10

Mercer Island  vs.  Curtis

Newport  vs.  Bellevue

Thursday Playoff Results

Bainbridge  12  vs. Peninsula 18

Emerald Ridge 4 vs. Lakes 7

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bracket Play Results for Wednesday 11/7

(Winning team is underlined)

Bellevue  24            vs           Lakes  3                             Mercer Is 26         vs     Bainbrdg Is  6

AMntnvw  17          vs           Em Ridge  10                     Curtis  14              vs     Peninsula  3

Enumclaw  12         vs            Lakes  11                          ARiverside  19     vs     Bainbrdg Is  7

Newport  11           vs            Em Ridge   4                     Puyallup  13         vs     Peninsula  7

Bellevue  20            vs            Enumclaw  4                    Mercer Is  14       vs     ARiverside  10

AMntnvw  4          vs             Newport  11                     Curtis  16             vs     Puyallup  6

As expected, the top eight seeds advance to the quarterfinals on Friday, but there was at least one result that didn't go according to the seedings.  We found out that Newport is not just a legitimate threat but a bona-fide title contender.  The #2 seed Lions of Auburn Mountainview had the misfortune of having Newport in their bracket and fell to the Knights by a score of 11 - 4.  The Lions path to the finals now becomes very difficult as they must face Bellevue in the quarterfinals.  Auburn Riverside held their own against Mercer Island until about midway through the 3rd quarter when the Islanders were able to get the lead and pull away in the final quarter.  Now the Ravens will face Curtis in the quarterfinals in what looks to be a great match.

The games need to be played, but Mercer Island and Newport look to have the easiest routes to the semis by virtue of winning their brackets.  From the Committees perspective, the top games to watch in the quarterfinals will be Curtis vs. Auburn Riverside and Bellevue vs. Auburn Mountainview.  Only four teams move on to the semis, so we will see two of the top 6 ranked teams fall out of title contention.  If Bellevue prevails against Auburn Mountainview, we will likely see three North division teams in the semis. 

Polo On!

Quarterfinal Match Ups for Friday 11/9

Mercer Island vs. Puyallup

Curtis vs. Auburn Riverside

Newport vs. Enumclaw

Bellevue vs. Auburn Mountainview

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Committee speaking.  We are now in final preparation for the 2012 boys High School Water Polo State Championship. At this time, make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position. Also make sure your seat belt is correctly fastened. Also, we advise you that electronic equipment may be kept on as long as you forward updated scores to the Committee throughout the tournament. Now relax if you can and enjoy the ride!

Yes water polo fans, it's time to determine the 2012 Champion and the State Tournament promises to be one of the most competitive in state history.  The brackets are listed below showing the teams followed by their seeding for the State Tournament.  Simply stated, if you want to advance to the quarterfinals, you need to finish in the top two of your bracket.  Heck, you can even succumb to pressure in one of your games and still have a chance to advance.  Upsets are possible which could create ties within the brackets in which advancement to the next round will be determined by fewest goals allowed.  The quarterfinals will be cross bracket matches between bracket winners and the number two teams from the other brackets.  Saturday will bring the semifinals and finals along with other games determining finishes through 12th place.

This season has been a great year for parity and the top six teams have realistic hopes of becoming the 2012 champion. No team is unbeatable and all have lost to in-state opponents which will make for a very tense and exciting tournament.  From the Committee's perspective, the top seeded teams should advance to the quarterfinals, but an #8 vs. #9 match up between Puyallup and Peninsula promises to be close.  Ironically both the #1 and #2 seeds have tough matches in their brackets,  Matches to keep and eye on are Auburn Riverside (#5) vs. Mercer Island (#1) in bracket A as well as Newport(#6) vs. Auburn Mountainview(#2) in bracket B.  The winners of these games should win their bracket and have a favorable path to the semis.  In bracket C,  Bellevue should advance but will face tough competition in the quarterfinals against either Newport or Auburn Mountainview.  Curtis should win bracket D and advance to the quarters where their likely opponent will be Auburn Riverside, if the Ravens don't win their bracket.

We're talking about youth and playoff pressure so anything can happen, but the Committee would not be surprised to see the top four seeded teams advance to the semis, though Newport (#6) could be the spoiler.  All the teams in the tournament have shown the ability to score but offensive stats can be overrated.  Defense wins championships and the top four teams have consistently played strong defense all year showing the ability to defend the counter attack, pressure the perimeter and defend the hole set.  In addition, they have all won games against other top ranked teams executing their offense when the easy stuff has been taken away. 



                                                   B                                     C                             D

Mercer Island(1)              Auburn Mountainview(2)      Bellevue(3)             Curtis(4)
Auburn Riverside(5)        Newport(6)                           Enumclaw(7)          Puyallup(8)
Bainbridge(12)                 Emerald Ridge(11)              Lakes(10)               Peninsula(9)

Playoff Handicapper

Title Favorites

Mercer Island:  Balanced attack, team defense and big game experience. 

Auburn Mountainview:  Has the defense to keep opponents in check and the offense to put points on the board.  Win the bracket and the rest falls in place.

Bellevue:  Likes the role of the underdog.  Defending champ still improving. Brings both offensive and defensive teamwork to the pool every game and has won pressure games.

Curtis:  It's tradition. Depth, experience, tough defense, and potent offense puts them in the middle of the hunt for the title. 

Legitimate Threats

Newport:   The talent is there but they need a team effort and focus if they want a shot.

Auburn Riverside:  Has the tools but a tough draw and path to the semis.  If they make it there, they might just make it all the way.

Outside Shots

Enumclaw:  Has beat some higher seeded teams this year.  Can score but needs more consistency on defense if they want to get to the semis

Puyallup:  Can make things exciting with their ability to score but not quite ready for prime time against the top six teams

Maybe Next Year

Peninsula:  Showing improvement with a shot to advance to quarters

Lakes:   Tough bracket.  A top 8 finish would be huge.

Emerald Ridge:  This will be a little tougher than the Wild Card Tournament, but great experience for the future.

Bainbridge:  You made it to State.  Play your hearts out!

The objective of the tournament is to determine the champion, but this tournament is also about promoting and celebrating high school water polo in Washington. For our water polo community, it is as much about the journey as it is about the destination. Every team has their own unique story of challenges and accomplishments throughout the season and a loss, though disappointing, should not diminish their achievements. All of the players and coaches deserve our recognition and respect. Regardless of the outcomes, be sure to show your appreciation to all the athletes, coaches, referees, officials and volunteers that make this Championship tournament possible. Enjoy!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Boys High School Rankings for Week of 11/4/2012

  1. Mercer Island
  2. Bellevue
  3. Auburn Mountainview
  4. Curtis
  5. Newport
  6. Auburn Riverside
  7. Enumclaw
  8. Puyallup
  9. Peninsula
  10. Lakes      10.  Emerald Ridge   (tie)

The regular season is over and now we wait for the State tournament to begin on Wednesday Nov. 7th.  Not much action besides the wild card last week to determine the last three entrants to State.  Mercer Island remains at No. 1 and most likely will be the top seed at State.  Bellevue traveled to Enumclaw and prevailed with a 14 to 9 victory over the Hornets.  Nothing to write home about but good enough to keep the No. 2 ranking.  The Lions of Auburn Mountainview were idle ( I think) and stay put at No. 3.  The Curtis Vikings hosted Bainbridge and coasted to an 18 to 5 victory in their final prep for State.  Newport remains very quiet at No . 5.  I guess we only have to wait a few more days to see if their lofty ranking is deserved.  The Auburn Riverside Ravens are still No. 6 and can't wait to make up for last years' performance at State and move up in the final rankings.  Enumclaw had their final regular season game against Bellevue which didn't help their win/loss record but gives them valuable experience heading into State.  Roosevelt's wild card implosion allows Enumclaw to move up one spot to No. 7Puyallup also moves up one spot to No. 8.  Their late season surge secured a 2nd place finish in the West and the Vikings look ready to possibly make some noise at State. The Peninsula Seahawks were able to win a tiebreaker with Lakes to earn third place in the West division and avoid the wild card mayhem. Peninsula jumps back into the rankings at No. 9Emerald Ridge Jaguars must have had their Wheaties prior to the wild card because they looked like a team on a mission as they powered past Stadium, Roosevelt and Bainbridge to advance to State.  Welcome back to the rankings at No. 10, but your not aloneLakes lost the tiebreaker to Peninsula which placed them in the wild card. Once in the wild card, the Lancers ran the table with wins over Kentridge, Bainbridge, and Roosevelt. Lakes advances to State and shares the No. 10 ranking this week. For the Roosevelt Roughriders, OUCH!  Everything looked good until game your second game of the wild card and then it just seemed to evaporate.  Youth combined with playoff pressure often leads to heartbreak.  Still not sure what Roosevelt was doing in the wild card, but their inability to closeout games proved costly and there will be no memorable State tournaments moments for Roosevelt this year. An overtime victory over Roosevelt secured a spot at State, but no spot in the rankings this week.   Bainbridge, welcome to State.  No one really gave the Spartans a chance, but it doesn't matter what others believe as long as you believe in yourself.  It's been a tough season for Bainbridge but that is all behind them with a come from behind victory over Roosevelt.  Enjoy every minute of your State experience. Congratulations!

The path to winning is filled with obstacles and many of them are mental.  Water Polo may be physically challenging, but it's not overly complicated.  The team that consistently brings a high level of focus with execution of the fundamentals both offensively and defensively usually wins.  Throw in  a spectacular play or two, some clock management down the stretch, and well placed timeouts and a 2012 champion will be crowned.

Polo On!

(The Committee made an error on the original posting this week and erroneously stated that Emerald Ridge defeated Lakes in the wild card.  These teams did not play in the Wild Card.  Both teams were undefeated in the Wild Card Tournament and advance to State. The Committee's error left Lakes out of the original rankings which would not have been the case had the error not been made.   My sincere apologies to the Lakes Lancers.)