Clovis News: Sports

Clovis High boys water polo aims for the top

Clovis High can put an exclamation point on a regular season that's expected to culminate with the top seed in the Division I boys water polo playoffs when it hosts Clovis West today.

The Cougars (23-5) already have secured the Tri-River Athletic Conference championship at 8-1 heading into their 5 p.m. game against the Golden Eagles. Clovis' only league loss was to Clovis North, which is in the Central Section D-II playoff bracket.

"I'd be surprised if we didn't get the top seed," said Clovis coach Terry Giffen, whose team is led by a trio of 50-or-more goal scorers in seniors Chase Lemley, Jake Salomonson and Jake Jizmejian, as well as junior goalie Neil Stott.

In years past, securing the No. 1 seed in D-I was viewed as essential in order to have an easier path to the title game. But with the addition of former D-II power El Diamante and the continued emergence of programs such as Central, Madera and Clovis East, there figure to be few easy games when these playoffs begin Nov. 10.

"The past few years, if you are a two or a three [seed], that semifinal game is huge," Giffen said. "You'd have to focus so much on getting through that game, and the one vs. four game has not traditionally been as tough. But this year, there are going to be several better games than there have been."

The seeds for the three-division boys and girls section playoffs will be announced Friday.

Contenders for No. 1 slots include Clovis North and Memorial in D-II boys, Garces and Mt. Whitney in D-III boys, Clovis West in D-I girls, Hanford West and Golden West in D-II girls and Mt. Whitney and Tulare in D-III girls.

Individual tennis

Top-seeded Robin Draper and Sydney Perotti of Memorial resume pursuit of the section doubles title at 11 a.m. Friday in Bakersfield when they face Reedley's 16th-seeded Stephanie Okamura and Kiana Fujioka during the round of 16.

If the Panthers advance, they would meet either the team of Bakersfield Christian's Jimmi Futrell and Kim Butler or Clovis East's Crystal Ruiz and Merica Jizmejian. Draper, then teaming with Betsey Lauritzen, has helped defeat both potential quarterfinal opponents earlier this season.

The semifinals and finals are set for Saturday.

"You don't want to overlook anyone, and you just can't throw your racket out there and win," Memorial coach Andrew Sorensen said. "But if they play as they are capable of playing, I feel pretty good about it."

Last season, Draper and Michelle Frea finished third in doubles while Perotti was a quarterfinalist in the singles tournament.

"Their games complement each other," Sorensen said. "Robin is probably the best defender. Sydney has a big forehand and backhand and is more offensive. Sydney can set Robin up pretty well."

On the other half of the doubles bracket, third-seeded Kathryn Ashford and Megan Lee of Buchanan play Garces' No. 14 Annie Berry and Mia Janinno.

In the singles tournament, third-seeded Pookie Gonzalez of Bullard -- who was a part of last season's doubles championship team -- opens at 9 a.m. Friday against No. 14 Isabella Busacca of Liberty.

"I'm just staying focused," Gonzalez said. "I feel my game has gotten better since the beginning of the season. I'm excited to go out and play."

Top-seeded and last season's singles runner-up Chelby Cooke of Bakersfield Christian meets Tulare Western's Brooke Hillman in the round of 16.