If the Central Section water polo playoffs started today, it would be hard to look anywhere but Clovis West High for the top seeds in Division I.
The Golden Eagles affirmed their positions as the section's top programs with victories over Buchanan on Wednesday evening at the Clovis West Aquatics Center, the boys winning 6-4 and the girls prevailing 14-5 in Tri-River Athletic Conference games.
Clovis West entered top-ranked in The Bee's boys and girls rankings. Buchanan's boys are ranked second and its girls No. 3.
But coaches from both Eagles programs know Wednesday's victories won't mean anything if they don't repeat that success during the rematch Oct. 28 at Buchanan.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"It can be the kiss of death," said Clovis West boys coach Steve Mosher, cautioning against overconfidence. "We've got to play them maybe two more times [including a potential playoff meeting.] We can't sit back."
Girls coach Scott Torosian agreed.
"The thing is we can't let up," he said. "I have a lot of respect for Buchanan."
Clovis West's boys opened the first quarter with goals from Josh Shaffer and Brad Duncan and led throughout. Buchanan pulled within 3-2 on the second of two goals by Kyle Kittlitz in the third quarter, but Trevor Kolb's goals in the third and fourth quarters helped the Eagles (12-3, 4-0) pull away.
"We did what we wanted to do," Mosher said. "We played good defense, got the looks we wanted and took the shots we wanted."
Clovis West held Buchanan (16-5, 3-1) to 23 shots, including six that were blocked.
"That's our focus," Kolb said. "We don't have to put a high score up if we stop them on defense."
The Bears didn't get off more than six shots in a quarter until the fourth, when it was too little, too late.
"They forced us into shots they wanted us to shoot," Buchanan boys coach Dave Pickford said.
The girls game saw Tristin Baxter score three of her seven goals in the first quarter as Clovis West (12-1, 4-0) built a 4-1 lead and never looked back.
"They have the best player in the Valley and she showed why tonight," Buchanan coach Scott Schiller said. "She scored a lot of goals early and that sets the tone."
Clovis West's defense made seven steals while building a 9-1 first-half lead.
Said Torosian: "Our defense into our counter attack -- that's what we stress in practice, and they executed."
Buchanan (12-6, 3-1) received three goals from Bret Mortimer.