The top-seeded Lady Spartans of Strathmore High have cleared the final hurdle, defeating the third-seeded Lady Pirates of Reedley High 18-12 on Saturday, and ending their story book season as the Central Section Division III Champions.
Not a bad a way to cap things off during the debut year of Strathmore’s new pool. The Lady Spartans had a great run this year; going undefeated in the regular season despite having to play all but one of their home games at Granite Hills High School. Not a problem for the Lady Spartans, who took care of business and proceeded to earn themselves the top spot in the Division III playoff bracket by the time Strathmore’s new pool was finished.
With a big win over eighth-seeded Madera South in the opening round, and a clutch overtime victory over fourth-seeded Lemoore in the semifinals, the Lady Spartans had one final game to win against Reedley before they could be crowned champions.
Strathmore jumped out to a 3-0 lead to start the game, and sophomore goalie Shay Ramirez put on a blocking clinic, tallying up three blocks and one save in the first quarter. After Reedley answered with two goals of their own, senior captain Carly Innis put two more goals up on the board for Strathmore, and both teams played with the physicality and intensity that one would expect in a championship game.
Reedley’s Megan Warkentin turned it up in the second quarter scoring a total of three goals, and Reedley tried desperately to close the gap. However, Madison Bower, Sydney Garcia, Gwen Adriannsen and Innis each scored one goal in the second, to give Strathmore a 9-7 lead heading into the half.
After the break, the Lady Spartans came out in third and started to pour it on. Innis was playing lights out in all facets of the game, scoring two more goals and setting up teammate Garcia for a clean shot on goal after making a great play on defense that led to the counter attack.
Ramirez had a sequence where she made three straight blocks in the cage and Strathmore’s collapse defense was on point. The only low point for Strathmore in the third was the loss of freshmen Hannah Hartsell after she received her third ejection, which meant she was majored and our for the rest of the game.
Reedley went on a 4-1 run to begin the fourth and were able to get some good stops on their defensive end, but Strathmore kept answering with clutch goals when they needed it, and in the end Innis and Adriannsen scored the last three goals of the game to get the victory.
“I think this is huge, I think putting the pool in, and us getting in it was just a burst of energy and excitement. It’s so nice to come in here and win, and complete the season with a championship at our own pool. It’s just awesome,” Strathmore Coach Tom Harrison said.
“They just played so good, I’m so proud of them. Their resilience, and their dedication and commitment to one another, even when they had some goals scored against them, they fought back, they talked amongst each other, they opened up, they’re all good friends and it’s just hard to beat a group like that.”
Innis led her the Lady Spartans in scoring with eight goals on 11 attempts, as well as contributing five assists and five steals on defense.
“My freshmen year was the first year there was ever a team here, so I’ve been here the whole time we’ve had a team,” Innis said “It’s amazing that I was here at the beginning and now for senior year we win Valley, so I’m just really happy and really excited right now.”
Freshman captain Bower also put in a solid performance and ended her day with five assists, two goals and two steals on defense.
“It feels really amazing, I hope we can do it in future years. I’m really confident with my team, we’ve all gotten so close, but I’m really going to miss Carly though,” Bower said. “Carly is my rock and she really inspired me to become a better water polo player.”
Also for the Lady Spartans, Adriannsen had a total of five goals and Garcia scored a total of three.
Ramirez has played great in the cage all season for Strathmore and throughout the playoffs she has taken her consistent play to another level.
“I’m so happy for my team,” Ramirez said. “We’ve worked all year to get here, and to have accomplished it, in our own pool and send Carly out with a title, it couldn’t of been better.”
Posted: Monday, November 24, 2014 9:11 am
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