MODESTO — It wasn’t much of a challenge, not because Pitman High boys water polo faced a much lesser opponent.
It was just that the Pride made it look that way.
“Our guys just came out real hot,” coach Drew Clute said.
That statement perfectly summed up Pitman’s performance against Johansen High, the top seed from the Modesto Metro Conference, in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Tournament on Saturday afternoon at Johansen’s own pool. The 16-2 win sends the Pride, the No. 2 team in the Central California Conference behind crosstown rival Turlock High, to the quarterfinals only for the second time in school history.
Pitman faces Davis Senior High — a Section finalist in the past two seasons and the winner of 13 Section titles — today at 2 p.m. at Tokay High in Lodi.
Against Johansen, the Pride got some revenge. The Vikings knocked Pitman out of the postseason in 2006 and ’07; the Pride’s only other appearances. This time, the Pride came out gunning, jumping out to a 6-1 lead with 2 minutes, 16 seconds left in the first half and holding off the Vikings scoreless in the final two quarters.
“We did what we needed to do,” said Pitman’s Tyler Jamieson, who led with a game-high four goals.
Teammate Quinten Day finished with three scores, and Nathan Nguyen added three.
“We had good communication, knowing where our team was in the pool,” Jamieson said. “Talking, taking good shots, working on the (other team’s) goalie — and that’s what we needed to do.”
Jamieson scored three of his four goals in the first period, and the Pride held the Vikings without a single score after the 1:57 mark in the second period. They created scoring opportunities all afternoon and were 7 for 7 on 5-on-6 power play situations.
Defensively, Pitman was also impressive — thanks in part to Zach Hazelwood’s eight blocks.
“We got right into early post-ups with our cross passes,” Clute said about the Pride’s quick-paced offense. “I think that’s how we scored. It also comes down to, when the ball is in a guy’s hands, is he going to finish or not?”
More often than not, they did.
“I thought the will, the urge and desire to finish the ball was in a lot of the guys today,” Clute added.
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