- Mercer Island
- Auburn Riverside
- Auburn Mountainview
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.