The first half of the high school water polo season is over. Now it's time for the second half -- the postseason.
Based on results from this past weekend, it appears the Sacred Heart Prep boys and girls are ready to make runs at yet more Central Coast Section Division II titles.
The SHP girls (19-5) went 3-1 and finished second at the 13th annual NorCal Championships while the SHP boys (17-7) also went 3-1, taking fifth at the Memorial Cup.
For the girls, it was their best finish at the NorCal tournament since the Gators won the 2007 title.
"In terms of the take away, I think we showed ourselves that we can compete with anyone in Northern California," said SHP coach Jon Burke. "We had three quality wins and all of them were done in a different fashion, so we learned a lot and gained more experience."
SHP opened with a closer-than-expected 8-7 win over Clovis North, then topped West Catholic Athletic League rival St. Francis, 11-6. In Saturday's semifinals, the Gators avenged one of early season losses by edging Clovis, 6-4.
That sent host SHP to the championship match, where 2013 champ and '14 runner-up San Ramon Valley handed the Gators a 13-4 loss. It was the Wolves' third win over SHP this season.
"We definitely wish we would have made the finals more of a game, but San Ramon is an outstanding team," said Burke. "They're fast and defend well, plus they've got two elite level athletes in (junior Sarah) Klass and (junior Alexis) Liebowitz. We gave up six goals to Klass alone, so just given that statistic, it would have been hard to beat them."
Klass, the younger sister of Stanford's Kat Klass and the daughter of former Stanford All-American Craig Klass -- a current SRV assistant coach -- scored four of her goals on 6-on-5 situations where she invariably found herself open. She had four goals in the first half when the Wolves grabbed a 7-4 lead.
SHP's hopes for an upset disappeared quickly in the third period when senior Malaika Koshy picked up her third exclusion with 6:35 remaining and had to sit the rest of the match.
Playing without a key scorer and defender showed quickly as Klass scored in the man advantage and again with 38 seconds left in the period -- again in a 6-on-5 situation -- and the match was settled at 10-4.
"In terms of Malaika fouling out, sure it's going to be hard to beat a team without your top defender in the game," Burke said. "We'll watch the tape and see why the exclusions were called and try to address any issues, but these things happen, and I see it as more of an outlier than anything else. That said, she needs to be cautious when she's playing with two fouls and as a team we need to communicate better to help her avoid those situations to the best extent possible."
Despite the loss, it was a good learning weekend for the Gators. Junior Maddy Johnston had two goals against SRV and 13 for the tournament while junior goalie Jane Rakow gained valuable experience against teams that have handed SHP four of its five losses.
"I think the second take away, and probably the most important one, is that we're playing pretty good water polo right now, so in reality, we don't plan to make any major changes to what we've been doing," said Burke, "We just need to get better at it. Sure they'll be some tweaks here and there, but the majority of what we'll be focused on will be opponent specific.
"In order to be successful in WCAL's and CCS, we'll have to manage this particular area better."
The Gunn girls (10-10) went 0-4 and finished 16th.
The SHP boys, meanwhile, bounced back from a second-round loss to Foothill of Orange County and beat Davis (9-8) and San Ramon Valley (12-7) on Saturday at Bellarmine Prep to finish fifth out of 16 teams. Host Bellarmine, which beat SHP in a WCAL showdown last week, wound up 11th.
"We finished top five in all tourneys this season against the best teams in the country," said SHP coach Brian Kreutzcamp. "I'm happy with the way we bounced back after we loss."
SHP senior Finn Banks had three goals against Davis, including his final one with 5:35 left to play that gave the Gators a 9-7 lead. Freshman Andrew Churukian also tallied three goals while junior goalie JC Marco had 13 saves.
Against San Ramon Valley, Banks tossed in four goals and Marco had 15 saves. The Wolves got to within 5-4 in the second period, but Banks scored once in the third and sophomore Alex Tsotadze added all three of his goals in the quarter for a 9-6 advantage. Junior Jackson Enright and senior Jack Hocker each added a pair of goals.
"We are going to try to keep this momentum going into this week's WCAL (playoffs) and then the CCS playoffs," Kreutzkamp said. "We need to be more consistent however and not have anymore letdowns."
The Gunn boys also played in the Memorial Cup and finished 0-4. Following a 13-5 loss to Foothill, the titans (15-9) fell to Los Alamitos, 17-15, in overtime, to Miramonte (16-9) and to Long Beach Wilson (11-7).
"Lots of high-quality polo," said Gunn coach Matt Johnson. "Happy with the weekend."
Priory fell behind by 22 points after one quarter and dropped a 60-26 decision to host Trinity Christian of Monterey in a Mission Trail Athletic League eight-man game Saturday at Monterey High.
The Panthers (1-3, 1-6) trailed Trinity Christian (3-1, 5-2) 54-14 at halftime.
Senior wide receiver Scott Harris had four touchdowns, rushing for TDs of 15, 34 and 15 yards in addition to catcher a 47-yard scoring strike from Jaedan Barker. Emerson Swan and JR Brandin lead Priory with nine tackles each.
Priory will host rival Pinewood (3-2, 5-2) on Friday in a season finale for both teams at 2:30 p.m.
Palo Alto had a strong run in the annual Northgate Invitational on Saturday in Walnut Creek, fashioning a 4-1 record that saw the Vikings reach the quarterfinals before falling to Pleasant Grove, 25-19, 25-18.
Junior setter Jessica Lee had 83 assists in the five matches as Paly moved to 23-10 overall following wins over Ukiah (25-22, 25-12), St. Helena (26-24, 25-12), Bishop O'Dowd (25-21, 25-20) and Montgomery of Santa Rosa (25-20, 25-18).
2015 NORCAL WATER POLO CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Soda Aquatic Center (Moraga)
Game 1 -- San Ramon Valley 19, Gunn 2
Game 3 -- Davis 9, Acalanes 3
Game 5 -- Clovis 9, Leland 8
Game 7 -- Campolindo 9, Clovis West 7
Game 9 -- Acalanes 13, Gunn 4
Game 11 -- San Ramon Valley 9, Davis 5
Game 13 -- Clovis West 15, Leland 12
Game 15 -- Clovis 9, Campolindo 6
At Sacred Heart Prep
Game 2 -- Monte Vista (Danville) 9, Soquel 7
Game 4 -- Miramonte 9, St. Francis (Sacramento) 7
Game 6 -- Sacred Heart Prep 8, Clovis North 7
Game 8 -- St. Francis 6, Las Lomas 5
Game 10 -- St. Francis (Sac.) 6, Soquel 5
Game 12 -- Monte Vista 5, Miramonte 2
Game 14 -- Las Lomas 12, Clovis North 7
Game 16 -- Sacred Heart Prep 11, St. Francis 6
At Sacred Heart Prep
Game 17 -- Miramonte 7, Davis 2
Game 19 -- Campolindo 12, St. Francis (MV) 6
Game 21 -- San Ramon Valley 9, Monte Vista 5 (semifinal)
Game 23 -- Sacred Heart Prep 6, Clovis 4 (semifinal)
Game 25 -- Davis 8, St. Francis (MV) 6 (7th place)
Game 27 -- Miramonte 10, Campolindo 7 (5th place)
Game 29 -- Monte Vista 9, Clovis 7 (3rd place)
Game 31 -- San Ramon Valley 13, Sacred Heart Prep 4 (1st place)
At St. Francis High
Game 18 -- Soquel 4, Gunn 3
Game 20 -- Leland 7, Clovis North 3
Game 22 -- St. Francis (Sac.) 5, Acalanes 5
Game 24 -- Clovis West 15, Las Lomas 2
Game 26 -- Clovis North 9, Gunn 4 (15th place)
Game 28 -- Leland 8, Soquel 6 Game 18 (13th place)
Game 30 -- Las Lomas 11, Acalanes 4 (11th place)
Game 32 -- Clovis West 9, St. Francis (Sac.) 2 (9th place),