Grizzlies favored in boys polo playoffs

Del Oro, Rio Americano among the top challengers
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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Fans of Sierra Foothill League boys water polo are holding out hope for a rematch of last week’s league tournament final when the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs hit their title game on Nov. 14. Three times this year, Del Oro has fallen just short against the perennial powerhouse from Granite Bay, but all three contests have been classics. As the 12-team section tourney field gathers at the Roseville Aquatics Center beginning on Friday, those two are among the favorites. The Grizzlies have been at the forefront of high school water polo in the area since they began playing, and Granite Bay owns every SFL championship since it took up the sport. With SCAC champion Dixon, the weakest of the league champions in the field, the other No. 1 seed on its side of the draw, Granite Bay’s path to the final is much cleaner than is Del Oro’s. “The best teams are Granite Bay, Rio Americano, Del Oro and Ponderosa,” said Del Oro coach Dave Obert. Rio Americano, Del Oro and Ponderosa are all in the bottom half of the draw, along with an underrated Woodcreek team that will test someone along the way. “Woodcreek is a wild card in these playoffs,” said Woodcreek coach Grant Guensler. “Even though we lost to both Rio and D.O., I feel Woodcreek can beat both those teams. So the quarterfinals with Rio and most likely Woodcreek and Pondo and D.O. are going to be telling.” Whichever team survives that foursome will likely earn the right to challenge Granite Bay in the finals. Oakmont is also part of the Granite Bay half of the draw, as the SFL No. 4 opens with El Camino, with the winner of that game expected to cruise past Dixon and into a semifinal matchup with Granite Bay. With a first-round bye, Granite Bay will open its tourney Saturday against the winner of the Oak Ridge vs. Bella Vista matchup that will be contested Friday afternoon. “Rio Americano and Pondo (in the bottom half of the bracket) are both very well coached,” Obert said. “Granite Bay has a relatively easy road to the finals which is why the SFL tournament game (won by Granite Bay) was so big. “ “There is a real possibility of a rematch in the final for Del Oro and Granite Bay,” Guensler said. The boys tournament begins with the Oak Ridge vs. Bella Vista contest at 1 p.m. Friday and continues with four games Friday and four more Saturday. The semifinals are Thursday, Nov. 12 and the title game at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14. FYI: Boys water polo schedule (D-II playoffs at Roseville Aquatics Center) 1 p.m. – Oak Ridge vs. Bella Vista 2:15 p.m. – Oakmont vs. El Camino 3:30 p.m. – Woodcreek vs. Dixon 4:45 p.m. – Del Oro vs. Mira Loma