Boys water polo earns fourth place in State

Jaxon Owens, Website Editor

The boys water polo team went to State Nov. 11 and 12 in Kennewick, WA at the Toyota Center this year and finished fourth in the entire State at the 4A level.

The team had a total of five players recognized. The two team captains each were apart of those who got recognized. Christian Braddock got first team All-Division and Kyle Howgate got second team All-Division. Beau Pasquier joined Christian Braddock as one the first team All-division. Austin Stump joined Howgate on the second team All-Division. Finally Akosh Morrell got an honorable mention.

There was one opponent, however, that had their number all year long, head coach Travis Braddock said.

“Curtis is a really good team and Dennis Piccolotto, the Curtis coach, is a great coach. They prepared a lot in the off season as a team by traveling to play some great teams. It would be difficult for a team that does not play together year round to play at that same level. This year we learned a lot. I think it will help our success next year and in the years after,” Braddock said.

Braddock breaks down the biggest game of the year for the team.

“Our biggest victory was the last game against Mercer Island. That was the most important game of the season and I know they were not ready for us. Most everyone there expected them to beat us by five points. However, our guys were having none of that. They came out strong from the beginning and even when we were down 9-5 going into the half they were still fired up and ready to get back in it, even though our hole defender was out with a bloody nose,” Braddock said.

Through all the adversity, there was still hope for the team in the fourth quarter.

“We went into the fourth quarter still down 12-8. Fortunately we had our hole defender back but we also got two of their starters ejected for the rest of the game and two others were one ejection each away from getting excluded from the game. Then one minute into the fourth quarter we got one more of their starters ejected but we still had four goals to make up if we even wanted to tie,” Braddock said.

Braddock goes through the last couple minutes of the game.

“We got a goal off that ejection [we were down 12-9], a minute and half later we got another goal [we were down] 10-12. Then Mercer Island scored a goal making it 10-13, we called a timeout and scored another goal 11-13,” Braddock said. “We earned another ejection and another goal 12-13, then Mercer Island scored a goal [making it] 12-14, with 44 seconds left [in the game]. Mercer Island called a timeout, we got the ball back with 22 seconds left on the game and we called a time out.”

In a desperate Braddock turned to a trusted play.

“We ran one of our most prized trick plays off that time out. It is one where one of our players ducks under water while the other players are creating a distraction, then the player pops up catches the ball from the goalie and scores, making it 13-14. Even though we did not have enough time to get the ball back it was one of the greatest games we had ever played and truly epitomized the old saying; it is not always about winning. It will be a game I will remember forever.”

Braddock sees this season as a success.

“I think they exceeded my expectations this year. Individually we have a lot of really talented players but water polo, like any team sport, it takes a lot of teamwork. The players come into this high school sport without much experience. There are not a lot of youth water polo programs in the Northwest like there are in California. So we have guys with differing backgrounds in sport and some with no experience in team sports,” Braddock said.

Braddock saw every player who started as the best at their position.

“Every player in the starting lineup was the best player for their position. They were all the fastest I have coached in the last seven years. They all had great endurance, there were a few tough opponents that the starters had to play most of the game and when it counted they did not show any slowing down,” Braddock said. “We had great defenders and did not let many goals go by and we had lots of steals. We had some great shooters, wrestlers and drivers. They really moved well to get open on offense. Ultimately, it was their ability to come together and play as a team that carried them through the toughest games.”