The boys water polo season kicks off with a bang as Santa Barbara High hosts some of the top teams in the country in its sixth annual Santa Barbara Boys Invitational.
Twenty-four teams will compete from Thursday through Saturday at the Santa Barbara, San Marcos and Dos Pueblos pools. The semifinals are scheduled for 9 and 10:05 a.m. on Saturday, with the winners playing for the championship at 2:25 p.m. at SBHS.
Orange Lutheran, San Anselmo-Drake, L.A. Loyola and Moraga-Campolindo lead the four pools of six teams.
Orange Lutheran features juniors Hanes Daube, and Ash Molthen, who are members of the USA Water Polo Youth National Team. Drake and Campolindo were CIF North Coast Section Division 1 finalists last year, with Campolindo handing Drake (29-1) its only loss in the title game, 5-4. Both teams return several key players. Loyola also returns most its squad from a team that went 24-5 and advanced to the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 semifinals.
The tournament also includes two teams from out of state: St. Xavier of Cincinnati and Bellevue High of Washington. St. Xavier won the Ohio state championship last year and Bellevue is a four-time state champion.
On the quality of the tournament, Santa Barbara coach Mark Walsh said: “You’ll see future Olympians.”
Dos Pueblos and San Marcos open the tournament on Thursday. The Chargers play host to Los Osos in a Group C game at 4 p.m., while San Marcos plays Cerritos in Group A at Santa Barbara. The Dons begin play Friday at 1 p.m. against the winner of Dana Hills vs. St. Xavier.
Games are schedule every hour. Thursday’s play begins at 4 p.m., Friday at noon and Saturday at 9 a.m.
Here are the tournament’s four groupings :
A: Orange Lutheran, Davis, San Marcos, Murrieta Valley, Vista, Cerritos
B: Drake, Agoura, Laguna Beach, Damien, Servite, Claremont
C: Loyola, El Toro, Oaks Christian, Dos Pueblos, Los Osos, Bellevue, WA.
D: Campolindo, Santa Barbara, Dana Hills, Righetti, Capo Valley, St. Xavier, Ohio.