Pan­thers into the fi­nals

Val­ley cham­pi­onship game is Satur­day at Fresno State

Porterville Recorder - - FRONT PAGE - By NAYIRAH DOSU ndosu@porter­villere­corder.com

After a semi­fi­nal exit last sea­son, Porter­ville High School girls wa­ter polo is into this week­end’s CIF Cen­tral Sec­tion Di­vi­sion II cham­pi­onship show­down after down­ing fifth-seeded Garces Me­mo­rial in Wed­nes­day’s play­off game at home.

De­spite ad­vanc­ing to their first Val­ley fi­nal as a se­cond-year Div. II pro­gram, the top-seeded Pan­thers’ big­gest cheer of the evening came when Ahna Davis — who wears cap No. 16 — came in off the bench and scored a shot-clock buzzer beater off an as­sist from se­nior Shyanne Rainey for the fi­nal score of the game with 9 sec­onds left to play.

Now the three-time, back-to-back East Yosemite League cham­pion Pan­thers (24-5, 8-0 EYL) are look­ing to add an­other ti­tle to their sea­son with a Val­ley fi­nal win on Satur­day. Play­ing at the Fresno State Aquat­ics Cen­ter at 1:15 p.m., Porter­ville faces sixth-seeded, de­fend­ing Val­ley cham­pion Red­wood (21-11). The Rangers up­set se­cond-seeded Madera (22-6) 10-8 on the road in a semi­fi­nal game Wed­nes­day.

“They’re re­ally ex­cited,” first-year PHS head coach Evan Thomas said. “We’ve been tak­ing it one game at a time and now we get to take the fi­nal game, and that’s su­per ex­cit­ing for us. I’m not sure who we play yet, but ei­ther team we’re ex-

ed to play. We’ve al­ready played Red­wood ear­lier in the sea­son. That was at the very be­gin­ning, so they’ll be a much dif­fer­ent team now, but so are we ... We’re su­per ex­cited about it.”

In the teams’ first meet­ing on Aug. 28, the Pan­thers beat the Rangers 12-3.

Thomas said play­ing, and beat­ing, a team mul­ti­ple times in one sea­son be­comes harder each time, but after the first five min­utes of the first

quar­ter against Garces (17-8, 5-3 EYL) — a team Porter­ville de­feated 16-7 and 11-8 pre­vi­ously this sea­son — that didn’t seem to be the case.

Twice in the first quar­ter the Rams made it a one-goal game, but un­in­ter­rupted goals from Rainey and ju­niors Alyssa Bodoh and Jo­hanna Scheer through the fi­nal 2:24 of the quar­ter put the Pan­thers up 6-2 go­ing into the se­cond. Porter­ville outscored Garces 2-1 and 6-2 in the se­cond and third quar­ters re­spec­tively, but equaled Garces with just two goals in the fourth.

“I’ve learned that any time you play a team more than twice, it gets more and more dif­fi­cult to beat them,” Thomas said. “And the Garces girls have im­proved so much since the first time we saw them in the sea­son. They did a great job tonight, but by the end of the game we were still where we thought we should be. We had a few things that were good learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences for us, for (Satur­day). I’m glad we had a good con­test against them, that was im­por­tant to us for (Satur­day) so that we can take some of those things from this

game and, you know we have the next cou­ple of days, and then we can put them to use in Satur­day’s game.”

From the hole set, Rainey dom­i­nated to fin­ish with seven goals, two as­sists and one steal. Se­nior Rose­mary Chap­man be­came prob­lem­atic for the Rams in the se­cond half and to­taled five goals, three as­sist and one steal.

“She’s been one of those peo­ple on our team all sea­son,” Thomas said about Rainey. “Her and Rose have been those two peo­ple we look to game in and game out. De­pend­ing which one is

do­ing it tonight, which one is do­ing it Satur­day, which one has done it be­fore — that doesn’t mat­ter. They take the role on and they do it per­fectly. It was fun to watch tonight.”

Also for Porter­ville, Scheer had two goals, four as­sists and two steals, while Bodoh fin­ished with one goal, three as­sist and two steals. Se­nior goalie Sa­man­tha Rainey also recorded 11 blocks and one as­sist.

“We had a cou­ple of goals this sea­son,” Thomas said. “We had the goal to win league and we did that. We had the goal to

win a Val­ley cham­pi­onship, and we’re hop­ing to do that Satur­day.”

BOYS WA­TER POLO No. 2 Hanford 21 No. 6 Strath­more 15

Sixth-seeded Strath­more (19-10, 6-2 ESL) lost 21-15 on the road to se­cond-seeded Hanford (16-13) in a CIF Cen­tral Sec­tion Di­vi­sion III semi­fi­nal game on the road Wed­nes­day.

The Spar­tans were down 7-3 in the first quar­ter and 13-7 by the end of the se­cond. Both teams scored three goals then five goals, re­spec­tively, in the third and fourth quar­ters.

RECORDER PHOTOS BY CHIEKO HARA

Porter­ville High School’s Shyanne Rainey, right, scores a goal from the hole Wed­nes­day, Nov. 7, dur­ing the first half of a game against Garces Me­mo­rial High School in a semi­fi­nal match of the CIF Cen­tral Sec­tion Di­vi­sion II play­offs at Porter­ville High School. The Pan­thers ad­vance to the Val­ley fi­nal on Satur­day.

Porter­ville High School goalie Sa­man­tha Rainey keeps her eyes on the ball fac­ing a Garces Me­mo­rial High School shot Wed­nes­day, Nov. 7.

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