East County boys’ water polo teams gear up for CIF playoffs

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Seven Grossmont Conference teams qualified for this year’s San Diego Section boys water polo playoffs. Seeding for the three division single-elimination tournament, which begins this week, was conducted Monday at the section office in Balboa Park.

Each division features 12 teams, with the top four-seeded teams receiving byes in the opening round.

Divisions are currently based on student enrollment level.

Seven Grossmont Conference teams qualified for this year’s San Diego Section boys water polo playoffs. Seeding for the three division single-elimination tournament, which begins this week, was conducted Monday at the section office in Balboa Park.

Each division features 12 teams, with the top four-seeded teams receiving byes in the opening round.

Divisions are currently based on student enrollment level.

The Division I tournament begins on Thursday; teams in both Division II and Division III began first-round play on Wednesday.

All remaining teams will be in action this weekend. The Division II quarterfinals are scheduled Friday at La Jolla High School; the Division I and Division III quarterfinals are scheduled Saturday at the same site.

La Jolla High School’s Coggan pool will also serve as the competition venue for the CIF semifinals and championship games.

The Division II semifinals are scheduled Nov. 19, the Division III semifinals on Nov. 20 and the Division I semifinals on Nov. 21. Semifinal games are scheduled at 5:45 and 7:30 p.m.

All three divisional championship games will take place on Nov. 23. The Division II title game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. The Division III final follows at 5 p.m. The Division I final will cap the championship triple-header at 7:30 p.m.

Grossmont Hills League champion Granite Hills (17-10) received the No. 6 seed in the Division I bracket while Grossmont Valley League champion Santana (24-6) received the No. 5 seed in the Division III bracket.

Also qualifying for this year’s playoff pool were Grossmont, which received the No. 8 seed in Division I; Helix, which received the No. 12 seed in Division I; Valhalla, which received the No. 7 seed in Division II, Steele Canyon, which received the No. 11 seed in Division II; and West Hills, which received the No. 12 seed in Division II. 

Granite Hills, which finished 10-0 in league play, will host 11th-seeded Fallbrook (14-15) at 5:30 p.m. in Thursday’s opening round.

Grossmont takes a 20-9 record into its game against ninth-seeded San Pasqual (15-14). The Foothillers’ game is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. at Granite Hills High School to cap a playoff double-header.

In Thursday’s other playoff game involving a Grossmont Conference team, Helix (14-14) will play fifth-seeded Rancho Buena Vista (19-9) at 3:15 p.m. at The Wave Water Park in Vista.

In games on Wednesday, Valhalla (19-10) was scheduled to meet 10th-seeded Rancho Bernardo (7-22) while Steele Canyon (7-15) was paired with sixth-seeded Serra (13-16), West Hills (11-18) was slated to play fifth-seeded University City (12-11) while Santana was scheduled to host 12th-seeded Mater Dei Catholic (17-9).

Santana finished 8-0 in GVL play this season; Grossmont finished 8-2 in GHL play this season as that league’s runner-up team. 

Valhalla captured the championship title of October’s East County Invitational after defeating South Bay League champion Mar Vista 8-5.

The Norsemen were buoyed in the East County Invitational championship game by the play of six-foot-eight senior goalie Rockne O’Brien, who amassed 313 saves in 28 games appearances this season.

Junior Jake Gilmore led the Norsemen in point-scoring this season with 49 goals and 25 assists while senior Zack Mitchell keyed Valhalla defensively with 80 steals.

Vista (Division I), Serra (Division II) and Cathedral Catholic (Division III) each won division championships in 2012.

Top seeds this year include Carlsbad (Division I), Scripps Ranch (Division II) and Cathedral Catholic (Division III).

Cathedral Catholic (23-3) topped Mater Dei of Santa Ana, 8-7, in overtime on Saturday to snap the Monarchs’ state-record winning streak at 105 games.

For complete brackets, visit the website at www.cifsds.org.

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