Bearcats and Hounds split water polo

Lady Bearcats cruise to victory, boys struggle

PASO ROBLES — It was announced on Monday morning that the first league game within the Mountain League for both the Greyhounds and the Bearcats would be moved from Atascadero High School to the Municipal Pool in Paso Robles due to problems with the pool in Atascadero.

The news came just a day before the game was to be played, but certainly played a factor in the matches on Tuesday. This is the first season that Central Coast schools have both girls and boys water polo in the fall and thus brought out many more fans as the varsity games were played back to back.

It was a day filled with water polo for those who stayed for all four games, the junior varsity boys played at 3 p.m., the varsity boys played at 4 p.m., the girls varsity started after the boys and the JV girls followed suit. The girls won each of their games with the varsity winning big, 16-1, and the boys dropping both of their games with the varsity falling 10-3.

The Lady Bearcats return three all-league selections from last year’s team and their lone first-team selection did not take long to announce herself, loudly, to the new section. Tatiana Smeltzer, who earned first-team all-league as a sophomore a season ago, began league play with an eight-goal performance, including five in the first half against her biggest rival.

“Well what worked for us was, lately we have been working a lot on communication and that was the key to today’s game. We all communicated very well,” the humble Paso Robles girls star said of the team's performance. “We communicated enough to know when the kick outs were happening, where they were happening, being able to get the ball to them, and we were able to dominate because of that.”

Smeltzer scored the Bearcats’ first, second, fourth, sixth and seventh goals of the first half to give them a 7-0 lead over the Greyhounds at the halfway point.

“It was nice because there was actually enough pressure on them to make the girls actually work for a lot of their goals,” PRHS girls head water polo coach Grant East said of the game. “And it kind of pushes them to get them in a more typical fashion, where it’s not necessarily first try, sometimes second, third try. That just shows that they are really trying to put it in the cage and looking out for each other on the rebounds.”

The Bearcats’ two other returning all-league selections also played well. Audrey Pasky, who earned second team as a junior last year in the PAC 8, played fantastic set defense on the Hounds’ best inside threat and added an assist and a goal.

Halle Nash, who earned honorable mention as a sophomore last year, came up with several steals that led to Bearcats’ fast breaks and also buried three goals in the back of the cage.

This came as a big win for the Bearcats girls that were in the opposite position a year ago when they fell to the Hounds twice as they were the young team playing against a team comprised of mostly seniors and juniors.

The boys water polo team got off to a great start, but eventually their lack of experience in not only rivalry games, but just games, in general, began to show. However, even in the loss, head coach Duane McRoy is optimistic and liked what he saw from his young team.

“It showed how young we are and, honestly, our first half was much more than I expected as far as our effort and actually doing what we have been practicing so I was very pleased with that,” McRoy said. “It is really just learning to finish our 6 on 5’s, we are a little weak, which is to come because our passing — we are not on our legs when we pass yet and that’s just youth, I mean, seven sophomores or so on the team.”

Tre Eade, the team’s third leading scorer from a year ago, scored his lone goal three minutes into the first quarter, AJ Brown added a goal in the third and Jasen Line scored one in the fourth.

The offense wasn’t the only side of the ball that lacked polish at times. Zane Warren, who earned honorable mention honors in the PAC 8 as a sophomore goalie a year ago, started this season where he left off last year. The junior captain recorded 16 saves during the game, many of which came while facing a two-on-one or one-on-one situations.

“A monster game from Zane Warren in goal. Oh my gosh, he made incredible saves,” coach McRoy said after the game.

The girls will be in action this weekend when they head to Tulare Union for a tournament and the boys will play their next game on Monday in Nipomo.


© 2019-Paso Robles Press

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