Hollister High boys water polo watched a couple of old U.S.
Olympic water polo videos the night before Saturday’s Tri-County
Athletic League semifinal and final at Live Oak.
MORGAN HILL – Hollister High boys water polo watched a couple of old U.S. Olympic water polo videos the night before Saturday’s Tri-County Athletic League semifinal and final at Live Oak. After those videos, the Baler boys segued to some good old-fashioned comedy starring the slap-happy Three Stooges.

In the Balers’ 13-4 victory over the Acorns to capture the first outright TCAL championship for their school, the Balers played like Olympians in a relative laugher. Then they giggled to beat the ban when head coach Tom Agan got the traditional shove in the pool minutes after the final buzzer.

It was the first time Agan took a dive since 1995, when the Balers, who didn’t win the tournament that season, had the league title wrapped up after the second game of the tourney.

“It’s been awhile,” said Agan, who is winding down his 12th season. “I’m real proud of the kids. They worked hard and got what they deserved.”

“I knew Hollister was the prohibitive favorite coming into the season,” said Live Oak coach Mack Haines, who had never lost a league tournament before Saturday. “That’s the best Hollister team ever. They have more depth than they’ve ever had. They’re a bunch of classy kids, too.”

The No. 3 seed Balers (19-5) move on to the Central Coast Section Division I playoffs next Saturday against No. 6 Aragon (16-12) of San Mateo. The match will be played at St. Francis High’s Holy Cross Aquatic Center at 1:20 p.m. A victory would, in all probability, match the Balers in a rugged semifinal against 2nd-seed St. Francis (24-5). That match would be at Independence (San Jose) on Nov. 19. The D-I championship match is scheduled for Nov. 23 at Independence at 1:30 p.m.

Perennial D-I winner Bellarmine (27-5) is the No. 1 seed.

“I’ll be real disappointed if we don’t make it to the semifinals,” said Agan.

Agan was downright thrilled with his club’s performance Saturday. After holding off pesky Carmel 13-9 in the morning semi, the Balers shot out of the proverbial gate in the title game. Greg Henneman wheeled like a man possessed for the Balers first goal at 5:03 in the first.

Zach Gautney, who had his ‘best game ever’, according to Agan, dished to Nik Barr in the 2-meter for 2-0. Gautney then let one fly from 8-meters out as the first period clock wound down and it got by Acorns goalie Jason Kim with two seconds left for 3-0. Gautney ended the day with three goals and two assists.

Kim, for his part, was outstanding in goal for much of the match, keeping the score down as it was with spectacular saves. Barr had nearly 15 minutes of fame in the second period when he went crazy with three consecutive goals within 87 seconds. Greg Wilson assisted on the first, then Danny Valenzuela fed Barr for his next two. Barr had seven of the Balers’ 13 goals, as if staking a claim for league MVP honors.

“Nik dominated for awhile there,” said Agan. “He was unbelievable.”

In goal, Brannon Wynn contributed some tough saves. The Acorns didn’t score their first goal until Cory Robinson skipped one by Wynn with 3:17 left in the first half and the Balers holding a 6-0 cushion. Still, there was no stopping the Balers, who had players open on the outside time after time.

“We’ve been working hard on movement,” said Agan. “And it paid off. We did a great job of driving today.”

Baler bits: There is a possibility of a Baler doubleheader next Saturday at St. Francis, one of the sites for CCS polo. If the Baler girls defeat Lincoln Tuesday, they will play the Sacred Heart Prep-Castilleja winner at 11:40 a.m., right before the Baler boys… This will mark the first time Haines has never gone to CCS with a team.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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