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CIF boys water polo playoffs open for Metro teams Phillip Brents | Wed, Nov 09 2011 04:31 AM

Three Metro Conference boys water polo teams crashed this year’s San Diego Section playoffs. In a show of force, the Eastlake Titans, Hilltop Lancers and Mar Vista Mariners each had their seasons extended past last Friday’s final regular season games.

The Titans (Division I) and Mariners (Division III) both qualified as league champions while the Lancers (Division II) advanced as an at-large selection.

“We got in where we should have been seeded,” said Eastlake coach Chris Barrick, whose team received the No. 6 seed in the Division I field and drew a first round game against 11th-seeded Rancho Buena Vista on Wednesday. “I have no complaints. We’ve got to perform now.”

Twelve teams in each of three enrollment divisions were selected at Monday’s seeding meeting. A total of 42 teams applied for the 36 available berths.

Bonita Vista (Division II) and Mater Dei Catholic (Division III) just fell short of making the cut in their respective divisions.

League champions received automatic entry into the section’s post-season tournament.

Division I
The Titans (20-9) secured a playoff berth after defeating the Otay Ranch Mustangs, 18-2, last Friday to capture their fourth consecutive Mesa League championship.

Eastlake was one of seven league champions entered in the Division I field, joining top-seeded Vista (24-4) from the Avocado East League, second-seeded Carlsbad (20-8) from the Avocado West League, third-seeded Granite Hills (23-7) from the Grossmont Hills League, fourth-seeded Torrey Pines (22-5) from the Palomar League, fifth-seeded Scripps Ranch (16-7) from the City Eastern League and 12th-seeded Mira Mesa (13-8) from the City Central League.

Eastlake and RBV (18-11) previously met in a non-league game on Nov. 1, with the Titans recording a 9-7 victory. The winner of Wednesday’s game advances to Friday’s quarterfinal round against Granite Hills at noon at La Jolla High School.

The Division I semifinals are scheduled Nov. 15, with a championship triple-header (finals in all three divisions) set for Nov. 19, also at LJHS.

In other first round Division I playoff games scheduled to be played Wednesday, fifth-seeded Scripps Ranch hosted 12th-seeded Mira Mesa, seventh-seeded Rancho Bernardo (13-15) hosted 10th-seeded Fallbrook (17-12) while eighth-seeded Poway (15-12) hosted ninth-seeded Grossmont (20-9).

Carlsbad is seeking its ninth consecutive division title.

Eastlake won its first-ever playoff game last year as the No. 8 seed and is looking for continued success this year after recording a meteoric fifth-place finish in the recent 40-team San Diego Open tournament.

The Titans recorded tournament wins against Granite Hills, Grossmont, Poway and Mt. Carmel while dropping a hard-fought 10-8 contest to Torrey Pines.

Eric Hum set a new single-season section record with 137 steals after recording five takeaways in last Friday’s regular season finale against the Mustangs.

The previous section record was 133 steals, set by Santana’s Matt LaVoire in 1998.

Adam Hilborn had six goals in the win over Otay Ranch (1-7 in league) while Dylan Chase, Mike Tong and Daniel Lord each scored twice.   

Hilborn keyed Eastlake in regular season scoring with 124 goals while adding 28 assists and 41 steals. Chase ranked second on the team with 60 goals while recording 35 assists and 50 steals while Tong contributed 42 goals, 18 assists and 21 steals.

Other Titan statistical leaders included Lord (26 goals, 23 assists, 47 steals), Josue Alvarez (23 goals, 31 assists, 49 steals), Johnny Velasquez (19 goals, three assists, 12 steals) and Tyler Rowean (12 goals, 11 assists, 22 steals), Kevin Cochran (seven goals, six assists. 17 steals), Jian Miclat (six goals, 12 assists, 10 steals) and Jian Laxina (six goals, eight assists, three steals).

Besides his CIF-record 137 steals, Hum also contributed 18 goals and 38 assists.

Rhett McGinty recorded 210 blocks to go with a .541 blocking percentage while Brian Porter made 61 stops in the cage.

Division II

There was only one automatic league champion qualifier in Division II, leaving 11 at-large berths to fill. Hilltop (18-9) secured the No. 9 position and was set to meet eighth-seeded West Hills (17-10-1) in a first round game Wednesday at Santana High School.

The Lancers finished runner-up to Eastlake in the Mesa League standings with a 6-2 league record and carried a four-game winning streak into Wednesday’s playoff opener.

West Hills finished 4-6 in Grossmont Hills League play behind league champion Granite Hills, runner-up Grossmont and third-place finisher Valhalla, the No. 3 seed in the Division II field.

Hilltop defeated Mater Dei Catholic, 16-2, in the teams’ league finale last Friday at the Las Palmas pool in National City. Prior to that, the Lancers sank Monte Vista, 19-6, in a non-league game played Nov. 3 in Spring Valley, walloped Otay Ranch, 21-3, in a league contest played Nov. 2 and edged Valley Center, 13-10, in their final game in the San Diego Open on Oct. 29.

Hilltop finished regular season play strong by compiling an 11-3 record after Sept. 24. One loss was to Eastlake (17-11) in league play and the others to Steele Canyon (11-9) and Mt. Carmel (16-12) in the SD Open tourney.

Mt. Carmel (14-14) earned the No. 4 seed in the Division II playoffs while Steele Canyon (9-14) was seeded 10th.

Wednesday’s Hilltop-West Hills victor advances to Saturday’s quarterfinals against top-seeded Serra (23-6). Game time is 8:30 a.m. at LJHS.

“We closed out the season with three dominating wins,” said a very satisfied HHS coach John Salts. “Our team is playing the best water polo it has played all year. We seem to be peaking at the right time of the season, which is the playoffs. The players we needed to step up have done so and are reaching toward their true potential. It’s exciting water polo.”

Tanner Franklin scored six goals in last Friday’s game against Mater Dei (2-6 in league play, 8-14 overall) while Stuart Sokil and Nick Howard each scored three goals, Gio Rude scored twice and Jeremiah Schultz and Rodrigo Perez each had one goal.

Franklin scored seven goals in the win over Monte Vista while Howard, Rude and Perez each scored three times.

The late season addition of Howard, a transfer from Ventura High School, has helped open up and diversify the Hilltop offense. Howard, who was a member of the U.S. 16U national team training pool, has made two trips to Hungary to play water polo — once with his former high school team and once with the Santa Barbara Water Polo Club.

University City (19-4) earned the No. 2 seed in the Division II playoffs and will play the first-round winner between seventh-seeded Canyon Crest Academy (19-10) and Steele Canyon in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

In other Division II quarterfinal match-ups on Saturday, third-seeded Valhalla (14-13) will play either sixth-seeded La Costa Canyon (6-17) or 11th-seeded Ramona (9-20) while fourth-seeded Mt. Carmel will meet either fifth-seeded Westview (12-17) or 12th-seeded Point Loma (6-23).

Bonita Vista (3-5 in Mesa League play, 15-14 overall) finished just below Point Loma in the seeding hierarchy. A 12-6 league setback to Mater Dei on Nov. 2 closed out the Barons’ first season under new coach Betty Alexander.

Division III

Mar Vista (14-12) advanced to this year’s playoff field by virtue of its 8-0 record in South Bay League play. The Mariners drew the No. 12 seed and a first-round match-up against fifth-seeded Santana (18-11) on Thursday, with the winner advancing to Saturday’s quarterfinals against fourth-seeded La Jolla (10-14).

“I’m proud of my guys,” MVHS coach Chad Kavanagh said. “They came together this season when we had open positions to fill because we graduated a lot of seniors. It was a growing season. The first guys off the bench were freshmen and sophomores. They learned quite a bit this season.”

The Mariners, keyed by standout Justin Patacsil, wrapped up league play with decisive victories against Chula Vista (18-8 on Oct. 31) and Olympian (22-6 on Nov. 2).

Patacsil had six goals in the win over Olympian.

Coronado (17-9) earned the No. 1 seed in the Division III field, followed by No. 2 Bishop’s (18-8) and No. 3 Cathedral Catholic (12-13) — the top three teams from the ultra strong City Western League.

Other seeded teams included No. 6 Santa Fe Christian (13-14), No. 7 Mission Bay (16-10), No. 8 La Jolla Country Day (14-10), No. 9 Del Norte (17-9), No. 10 Valley Center (12-15) and No. 11 El Capitan (14-10-1).

Santana captured this year’s Grossmont Valley League title while Coronado won the City Western crown.

Mater Dei, Clairemont and High Tech High all failed to make the top 12 cut in the division seedings.

Wet shots
The Division II semifinals are scheduled Nov. 16, followed by the Division III semifinals on Nov. 17.

The Division I championship game is scheduled Nov. 19 at 2:30 p.m., followed by the Division II final at 5 p.m. and the Division III title game at 7:30 p.m.

For playoff updates, visit the Web site at www.cifsds.org.

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