Loyola, Santa Margarita, Mater Dei and Huntington Beach are the top four seeds for the Santa Barbara Boys Invitational Water Polo Tournament that runs Thursday through Saturday at local high school pools.
There are 24 teams in the SBI, with Santa Barbara, San Marcos and Dos Pueblos among the eight drawn to play play-in games into the main draw on Thursday.
The Dons kick off the tournament against Bakersfield-Garces at 2 p.m., and San Marcos follows against Dana Hills at 3 p.m.. at the SBHS pool.
Dos Pueblos plays its opener against La Serna at the Elings Aquatic Center at DP at 2 p.m. The Chargers lost to La Serna in the 2017 CIF Division 3 final.
If Dos Pueblos and Santa Barbara win, they both would face top-seeded teams on Friday. Dos Pueblos is drawn against Huntington Beach while Santa Barbara would play Santa Margarita in noon games. If San Marcos wins its opener, it would next face Palos Verdes at 3 p.m., at DP.
Thursday’s losing teams will play in a round-robin competition at San Marcos over the weekend.
The 16 teams in the main draw will play for spots in the championship game on Saturday at 1:25 p.m. at Santa Barbara High. If Dos Pueblos is among the top eight, the final will be played at DP.
Other strong programs in the tournament include San Clemente, Woodbridge, Orange Lutheran, Cathedral Catholic of San Diego, Mira Costa and San Ramon Valley of the Bay Area.
Looking at the top seeds, Loyola returns several players off a team that won 22 games last year. The Cubs lost in the final of this summer’s S & R Championships at Harvard Westlake, which featured eight elite teams.
Mater Dei, the defending Trinity League champion, won the state high school championships over the summer. The Monarchs are ranked second in Orange County behind Newport Harbor.
Huntington Beach, No. 3 in Orange County, finished second at the state high school championships.
Santa Margarita, a strong team from the Trinity League, is rated ninth in OC.
Other title contenders include: Orange Lutheran, ranked fourth in Orange County and led by senior attackers Riley Catino and Mason Killion.
Woodbridge, which has several returning players off a team that was seeded first in the Division 2 playoffs last season, and is sixth in Orange County.
San Clemente, No. 10 in OC, finished eighth in Division 1 last season and returns South Coast League MVP Christian Hosea.