Familiar foes are set to clash for the Central Section’s Division I boys and girls water polo titles.
Top-seeded Buchanan and No. 2 Clovis will meet for the fifth time in the past 10 seasons, while No. 1 Clovis and No. 2 Clovis West duel for the eighth consecutive year when the section crowns three boys and three girls champions in three divisions Saturday.
The boys final is set for 10 a.m. at Buchanan and the girls follow at 1 p.m. at Clovis.
Clovis’ boys earned their spot in the final as PJ McDonough pumped in a game-high eight goals in an 11-6 victory over No. 3 Clovis North in the first semifinal at the Cougars’ pool Wednesday.
“I was in position to score a lot, and that was all because of my teammates,” McDonough said. “They all went to the right spots. This is just a start for the next game.”
The Cougars (21-12) were protecting a one-goal lead midway through the third quarter when they exploded for three goals in a little more than a minute to extend their lead to 8-4.
Clovis North (18-12) wouldn’t get closer than three goals the rest of the way.
“We pride ourselves on the third quarter this year. That’s been our quarter,” Clovis coach Evan Baird said. “If we win, we win the game. If we lose, it’s tough for us to win a game. That was our big push. That’s our big talk at halftime every time, what do we have coming out in the third quarter? We got pushed back a little bit, then we really turned it on. That’s exactly what we wanted to see. We finished. We executed. That was a big thing for us.”
Clovis – which also received goals from Tanner Fisher, Sean Douglas McDonough and Ryan Trutna – will play in its fifth consecutive final and 13th overall, seeking its fifth section title.
Clovis North (18-2) was led by Evan Belli’s two goals.
In the other boys semifinal, Buchanan (24-5) rolled to a 21-5 victory over No. 4 Golden West (18-12) behind five goals from Kaleb Archer and four from Robert Phillips.
A year after an upset 9-7 loss as the top seed to the then fourth-seeded Trailblazers, the Bears scored the first seven goals of the game to take a 9-1 lead after the first period.
Buchanan – which has reached the final for the 14th time and is seeking its eighth section title – also received 13 saves from Kyle McKenney, who only played the first half.
Clovis’ girls had a five-goal lead at halftime, but had to hold off a late rally to beat No. 4 Clovis North 8-7.
Callie Woodruff scored twice as the Cougars (23-8) scored the first four goals of the game in the first quarter.
“We’ve been running and working certain plays and communicating and working as a team,” Woodruff said. “When we work as a team, good things happen.”
Clovis North (16-14) rallied in the second half behind three of Savannah Fitzgerald’s four goals. Fitzgerald’s final goal, with 22 seconds left in the game, cut the Broncos deficit to 8-7, but they would not get the ball back.
“First half, we were more in control and playing our A-game,” Clovis coach Noah Minton said. “Clovis North adjusted well and we didn’t adjust enough. That was a little rough, but that’s why it’s an exciting game. We love good competition.”
The defending champion Cougars, who will seek a fifth section title Saturday, got what proved to be the winning goal with 2:20 left in the game when Abby Mammen was in position to put in the rebound off a deflected shot for an 8-5 lead.
“I think it was honestly a team effort,” Mammen said. “We executed very well. I just took the opportunity and put it in the goal.”
Clovis West reached the final for the 20th consecutive season with a 10-3 victory over No. 5 Sanger as Ally Clague led the way with four goals.
Caitlyn Snyder scored three times and Maddie Loggins added two goals for the Golden Eagles (20-10), who will seek their 13th title Saturday.
Maci Layne’s two goals led Sanger (25-6).
Around the section
Division II boys – It will be a rematch between defending champion and No. 2-seeded Redwood and No. 1 Porterville at 1 p.m. Saturday at Granite Hills High for the title.
The Rangers (17-9) advanced with a 7-5 victory over No. 3 Lemoore (19-11) behind four goals from Hayden Hobbs and 13 saves from Koby Ramage.
The Panthers (29-1) rolled to a 15-8 victory over No. 4 El Diamante (17-11) in the other semifinal.
Redwood beat Porterville 10-8 for the title last season.
Division III boys – No. 4 Edison (24-6) upset top-seeded and defending champion Garces 7-6 to reach the final as Gavin Sanders scored the last of his team-high three goals with 21 seconds remaining for the go-ahead point.
Esteban Cervantes came up with a steal on the final possession for the Rams (19-10), who rolled over the Tigers 26-10 in last season’s final.
Edison will face second-seeded Hanford West (24-6) at 3 p.m. Saturday at Lemoore High for the title. The Huskies advanced with a 7-5 win over No. 3 Strathmore (23-9).
Division II girls – Behind four goals from Allison Baker, top-seeded El Diamante (27-3) pulled out a 10-7 victory over defending champ and fifth-seeded Golden West (19-12) to earn a spot in the finals.
The Miners will host No. 3 Redwood (21-8) in the final, set for 10 a.m. Saturday. The Rangers upset No. 2 Hanford 6-4 in the other semifinal as Skylar Ford scored three goals.
Division III girls – Hala Quinlan broked her own school single-game saves record with 14, and Lilly Dinis scored three goals to lead top-seeded Mt. Whitney (13-14) to a 9-4 victory over defending champ and No. 4-seeded Selma (18-12) for a spot in the final.
The Pioneers will seek a second section girls water polo title against No. 2 Reedley (24-4) after the Pirates rolled to a 12-3 win over No. 6 Kingsburg (14-18).
The final is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Golden West.
CENTRAL SECTION WATER POLO PLAYOFFS
No. 2 Clovis 11, No. 3 Clovis North 6
CN, Evan Belli 2, David Hoffman, Curtis Vidinoff, Jarrett Huffman.
C, PJ McDonough 8, Tanner Fisher, Sean Douglas McDonough, Ryan Trutna.
Records: Clovis North 18-12; Clovis 21-12.
No. 1 Buchanan 21, No. 4 Golden West 5
B: Kaleb Archer 5, Robert Phillips 4, Cade Berrett 2, Zack Keysaw 2, Gabe Putnam 2, Zach Zetz 2, Miles Duggan 2, Gio Ghimenti 1, Dawson Bricks 1. Saves: Kyle McKenney 13, Anthony Tolbert 5, Conner Schink 1.
GW: Brandon Green 2, Jens Niederreiter 2, Bret Dennis 1. Saves: Wil Stone 3.
No. 2 Clovis at No. 1 Buchanan, 10 a.m.
No. 2 Redwood 7, No. 3 Lemoore 5 (OT)
R: Hayden Hobbs 4, Jarad Cook 2, Cade Batchman 1, Gunnar Batchman 1. Saves: Koby Ramage 13.
L: C. Rhodes 2, C. Bonham 1, D. Gobby, C. Olson 1. Saves: Pietsch 10.
No. 1 Porterville 15, No. 4 El Diamante 8
No. 2 Redwood vs. No. 1 Porterville (Granite Hills), 1 p.m.
No. 4 Edison 7, No. 1 Garces 6
No. 2 Hanford West 7, No. 3 Strathmore 5
No. 4 Edison vs. No. 2 Hanford West (at Lemoore), 2 p.m.
No. 1 Clovis 8, No. 4 Clovis North 7
CN, Savannah Fitzgerald 4, Amy Zaninovich 2, Hannah Kharazi.
C, Callie Woodruff 2, Raylene McVicar, Shelby Vidmar, Adie Collard, Abby Mammen 2, Trystyn Vuori.
Records: Clovis North 16-14, Clovis 23-8.
No. 2 Clovis West 10, No. 5 Sanger 3
CW: Ally Clague 4, Caitlyn Snyder 3, Maddie Loggins 2, Lauren Cotton 1. Saves: Hannah Duggins 8.
S, Maci Layne 2, Maycee Ballew 1. Saves: Grace Ochs 9
No. 2 Clovis West at No. 1 Clovis, 1 p.m.
No. 1 El Diamante 10, No. 5 Golden West 7
No. 3 Redwood 6, No. 2 Hanford 4
No. 3 Redwood at No. 1 El Diamante, 10 a.m.
No. 1 Mt. Whitney 9, No. 4 Selma 4
No. 2 Reedley 12, No. 6 Kingsburg 3
No. 2 Reedley vs. No. 1 Mt. Whitney (Golden West), TBA