Sonora High is a water polo neophyte, launching its program just three years ago, yet the Wildcats played like veterans Friday in the DeLong Memorial Tournament.
"We've got 10 kids, so there isn't a lot of depth, but every one of our kids is also on the swim team," assistant coach Frank Martin said. "We have some good speed in the pool."
That speed, and aggressive play by Josh Martin and Justin Andrade, led the Wildcats past Lodi (14-8) and Modesto (12-9) in their early matches.
Sonora's magic ran out later in the day, when it lost 12-6 to three-time defending champion Newburg of Oregon.
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"We played very good defense, particularly (against Modesto), by pushing the ball away from the goal," Sonora's assistant coach said. "By forcing them outside, we took away their inside shooting."
Andrade and Josh Martin combined for nine goals, leading the fourth-quarter charge that sealed the win. They had 11 goals in the Lodi victory.
Turlock was the only Stanislaus District team to win its bracket, beating Clayton Valley and Ceres, and is among eight teams playing at Tokay of Lodi today for the crown.
Sonora and Johansen finished second in their brackets and will play today in the consolation round at Johansen. All 36 teams play at least twice today at Tokay, Johansen or Lincoln of Stockton.
Johansen won twice before falling to Golden West of Visalia 11-3. Brandon Duncan had three goals, but the Vikings were no match for the Blazers' quickness and defense.
The same was true for Buhach Colony, which beat Fresno 10-3 before losing 10-4 to Northgate of Walnut Creek.
BC had a chance to get within a goal in the final minutes when a Northgate player was tossed for fighting. The Thunder, down 5-2, missed the penalty shot and another shot moments later. Northgate's Rus Williams quickly scored on a breakaway to end the threat.
BC, similar to Johansen vs. Golden West and Sonora vs. Newburg, couldn't keep pace with the faster Broncos. That trend was apparent throughout the day, as the teams from the Bay area and elsewhere were simply too fast to catch.
"The game can go in cycles, and we're at a point where we aren't as fast as kids from other areas," said BC coach Rodd Parker, whose club is in first place at 8-0 in the Central California Conference.
Northgate defenders repeatedly swatted away passes and shots, sparking breakaways that were converted to goals.
"It's not just speed, but anticipation, getting a hand up to stop a pass or beating the other player to a spot," Northgate coach Jim McClelland said. "Speed is great, like size in basketball and quick running backs in football, but it's not enough to win by itself."
Pitman dropped its opener 8-3 to Tokay, but topped Liberty 11-5 and blanked Beyer 10-0 as Ian Roos had eight goals.