In the 50-year history of boys high school water polo in Washington state, nine teams have been crowned state champion. And in most cases, teams that win one tend to win several in a row.
Puyallup won nine straight in the late 1970s and early 1980s and, the entire decade of the 2000s was dominated by Mercer Island. Curtis has won the last five state championships.
Bainbridge High School is on that list as well, having captured back-to-back titles in 1995 and 1996. And this year they have a team itching to add to their trophy case. Of course, the water polo season still has a month to go, and there are many matches left to be played.
“They work really hard, and I don’t have to remind them to work hard,” coach Kristin Gellert said said. “They want it for themselves and each other.”
Thus far, the Spartans have beaten all comers. On opening night, they beat Bellevue 18-6, then topped Curtis 12-7 and knocked off Stadium 16-1. After beating Mercer Island on the road, they returned home to down Gig Harbor 20-6, and they have since beaten Bellevue and Newport as well.
On Monday night, the winning streak continued with a thorough drubbing of Mercer Island 17-8.
“I have a really, really strong group of seniors who have been working for this for six years or more,” Gellert said. “They’re great leaders in and out of the pool and encouraging everyone to rise to the occasion.”
The Spartans hit the scoreboard one minute into the match on a goal by Oskar Bannister. After Mercer Island tied it, Micah Webber potted the next two, the latter after a steal by Bannister. Bannister then closed out the quarter with his second goal of the match, giving Bainbridge a 4-2 lead.
Bainbridge pulled away in quarter No. 2, outscoring Mercer Island 5-1. Webber found Jacque Defawe for a goal 40 seconds into the stanza ,and Bannister notched his third of the game on a long pass from keeper Michael Bannister. Defawe scored again moments later, and Bannister registered his fourth goal of the game to give Bainbridge an 8-2 lead. Harrison Villella put home his first of the night to give the Spartans a 9-3 lead by halftime.
Mercer Island was able to cut the lead to 10-7 as they put away four of the next five goals, their run interrupted by a score from Cash Brooks at 5:47 of the third quarter. But Bainbridge regained the lead on two penalty shot goals from Finn Miller and Bannister’s fifth and final goal of the night.
Miller scored three more times in the fourth quarter ,and Webber also picked up his third of the game.
Bainbridge still has a few league games and a couple of invitational tournaments ahead before the playoffs begin Nov. 10. Senior Night is Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Bainbridge Aquatic Center.
Bainbridge 17, Mercer Island 8
MI 2 1 6 1 — 8
BI 4 5 4 4 —17
Bainbridge — Oskar Bannister; Mercer Island — Toger Peterson; B — Micah Webber; B — Webber (2); MI — Peterson (2); B — Bannister (2)
B — Jacques Defawe; B — Bannister (3); B — Defawe (2) ; B — Bannister (4); MI — Finn Friedland; B — Harrison Villella
MI— Friedland (2) ; MI — Peterson (3); B — Cash Brooks; MI — Peterson (4); MI — Luke Swerland; B — Finn Miller (penalty shot); B — Bannister (5); B — Miller (2, penalty shot).
B — Miller (3, penalty shot); B — Miller (4); B — Webber (3); B — Miller (5, penalty shot); MI — Devon Ringer