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Del Oro's Keenan Finney fell in love with water polo

Junior started playing to improve basketball game
By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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When Keenan Finney first gave water polo a try as a freshman at Del Oro High School, he did so to try and improve his conditioning for basketball.
 
Turns out the talented junior fell in love.
 
“I found it really fun,” Finney said of the water sport he never gave much thought about until he went to high school. “A lot of the skills in basketball transferred over easy.”
 
From shooting to catching and playing offense and defense, Finney has seen his time in the pool help him become more physical in basketball at the post position. 
 
The 6-foot-3, 185-pound multi-sport athlete was the leading scorer on the Golden Eagles this season, with 94 goals in 26 games — which was more than double the second-leading scorer even though Finney doesn’t play year-round. His team was eliminated in playoffs Friday night by Merced, 14-10.

Finney had a team-high six goals.
 
Finney has come to enjoy water polo, a sport people typically need to play year-round to achieve greatness, more than basketball.
 
“I like the pace of the game and the competitiveness and team work,” he said. “… Water polo opened my eyes to have a new level of competitiveness.” 
 
It’s also opened a new opportunities. 
 
Though Finney would like to play water polo in college and has yet to be contacted by any universities, coach Travis Martin believes Finney has the potential to do so.
 
“He’s one of the better players I’ve coached recently,” Martin said. “… He’s got the best natural hands I’ve seen. I know he’ll always gets something clever off. He’s come along very quickly. For only being a junior, who doesn’t play year-round, the amount of skill he’s picked up is next-level.”
 
Martin enjoys coaching Finney because the hole-set player is not only talented, but also smart.
 
“I love coaching him,” Martin said. “He’s a great kid. He listens to everything I say. You can tell he’s a multi-sport athlete. He understands give and go and space. He understands awareness.
 
“You can’t teach killer instinct. But for a guy that already knows it, makes it easy to coach.”
 
Martin is looking forward to next year, especially since Finney plans on swimming in the spring and playing more water polo in the off-season.
 
“I can’t wait,” Martin said. “He’s a huge piece of what’s going to happen next year. I’m expecting to be better next year. He’s going to try and do off-season stuff with us. Working on the little things, he’s really going to explode next year.”
 
Finney, who plays power forward for the Del Oro basketball team, thinks the Golden Eagles will be pretty good this season and be able to sneak up on other squads on the hardwood floor.
 
“We should be a surprise team,” he said. “We’re the underdog.”
 
Aside from hoops and water polo, Finney also enjoys the outdoors, camping, hiking, swimming, working out and hanging with his friends.
 
Of course, he also enjoys “being a normal teenager.”
 
Reach Matthew Kimel at matthewk@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel