LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE — It took three and half hours longer than expected, but for the Flintridge Prep boys’ water polo team, Wednesday evening’s CIF Southern Section playoff win was worth the wait.
The host Rebels, who were informed a few hours before the start of their Division V playoff match versus Whittier High that their pool was inadequately sized, made Burbank High their home in winning 12-7.
With the triumph, the Prep League runner-up Rebels (17-8), the fourth seed, earned advancement to Saturday’s divisional quarterfinal at Inland Valley League champion Riverside Poly (17-10), which bested Burbank Burroughs, 12-5, on Wednesday.
“It was the width of the pool that made us have to change,” said Rebels Coach Dan Hare, whose team moved back its 4 p.m. start at Flintridge Prep to 7:30 at Burbank High. “But I’m proud of the boys for adjusting to the circumstances.
“Had we played at home, I’m sure there would have been a different outcome and we wouldn’t have started as slowly. But even so, eventually speed on defense and offense wins out.”
The Rebels broke open a one-goal halftime lead in going up 11-4 thanks to a 6-0 third quarter in which they put away the Del Rio League second-place Cardinals (12-14).
Flintridge Prep did just about everything right in the frame, forcing six turnovers — three via steals from Diego Delgado — while holding Whittier to six shots, four of which were blocked by goalie Brian Khin.
It was Khin who arguably delivered the quarter’s biggest defensive effort when he blocked a five-meter attempt from Whittier attacker Elyas Yepez with 1:43 left in the quarter.
“It was awesome to get that stop. This year, we’ve been doing a lot of five-meter work at practice,” said Khin, who registered seven saves in three quarters before being replaced by Paul Bosh.
The block led to a quick counter-attack the other way in which Delgado (four assists) fed Ethan Vandeventer, who scored from four yards in putting Flintridge Prep up, 10-4, with 1:23 remaining.
Twenty one seconds later, Delgado stripped possession away from the Cardinals and set up Vandeventer (three goals and four steals) again for a score as the Rebels led, 11-4, at the end of the third.
Other than the play, the third quarter was also memorable for a scoreboard malfunction that led to a 10-minute delay and a yellow card given to Whittier Coach Rilesh Desai with 3:27 remaining in the quarter.
According to Hare, afterward an angry Desai did not shake hands with the opposing coach.
“It’s his M.O. I think the fact that he had a handful of opportunities to shake my hand since we’re the home team, I sure as hell wasn’t going to go out and be forthcoming with that,” Hare said. “He’s a young coach and he’ll figure it out.”
As for the action, junior John Treinen led the Rebels with five goals, including three in a first half in which Flintridge Prep led, 5-4.
“I felt like we were prepared no matter when or where we would play,” Treinen said. “We planned on taking care of business and just got loose before our game and got ready.”