Clovis News: Sports

Memorial High girls win, boys lose in water polo semifinals

The Memorial High pool on Wednesday evening delivered Central Section Division II semifinal water polo winners Memorial and Hanford with contrasting history.

The doubleheader began with Memorial's top-seeded girls requiring goals from Kristin Campbell and Sophia Gonzalez in a 40-second flurry in the final 1:30 to secure a 7-5 victory over No. 4 Exeter.

That means a first section title game appearance for the Panthers (26-8), who play No. 3 Golden West on Saturday at a site and time to be determined today.

"Yes, the girls recognize what it means, and it's a little nerve-racking," said Memorial coach Kristi Rose, a 2000 graduate of the school.

Conversely, Hanford's third-seeded boys showed no nerves whatsoever, receiving eight goals from Trey Cox and coasting to a 20-13 conquest of No. 2 Memorial.

And that means a second-straight section championship trip for the Bullpups (28-4), who will play at top-seeded Clovis North (19-8) on Saturday at a time to be determined today.

Hanford, as a No. 1 seed, defeated No. 2 Dinuba 14-11 in overtime for last year's boys D-II title -- the third section crown in Bullpups history.

They can expect the level of competition to rise against Clovis North, which placed second to D-I top seed Clovis in the section's strongest league, the Tri-River Athletic Conference.

"Yes, that gives them an advantage," Hanford first-year coach Jan Wantland said, "but we also come out of a very good league."

The Bullpups shared the West Yosemite League crown with El Diamante, which lost but 10-9 earlier in the season to Clovis.

Defense is Clovis North's strength.

"It's going to be hard," Cox said. "They're a very good team."

The Hanford-Memorial game matched teams that escaped with overtime wins over WYL members in the quarterfinals -- the Bullpups 15-13 over Lemoore and the Panthers 18-15 over Redwood.

But Hanford made clear there would be no game-ending drama in this one, leading 6-3 after the first period, 11-6 at halftime and then blowing it away by scoring six unanswered goals in a sequence that closed the third period and opened the fourth.

Senior Jared Linney closed his career by scoring five goals for Memorial (23-8).

The Panthers' girls led 4-0 at halftime. But all comfort was lost when Exeter's Kari Hill scored with 1:31 remaining, reducing the deficit to 5-4.

"Anything can happen in a minute and a half when you're only leading by one," Rose said.

But then Exeter continued a gamelong defensive strategy of collapsing on Memorial's Nia Apodaca in front of the cage and Campbell and Gonzalez scored with little resistance to clinch it, 7-4, with 45 seconds to go.