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The last four years of Wilson boys’ water polo has been building to these next two weeks as the Bruins start the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs with an incredibly talented and experienced senior class.
Wilson’s strong finish to the regular season moved them up to No. 4 in the final Division 1 poll, and the Bruins will host Damian at Belmont Outdoor Pool on Wednesday.
“This is a big opportunity,” Wilson coach Jeff Nesmith said. “This is one of the more favorable (playoff draws) that’s gone in our favor.”
If they can beat Damian, the Bruins will likely face Palos Verdes in the second round. Wilson beat Palos Verdes earlier this year.
“The bottom half of the Division 1 bracket is kind of a murderer’s row and there’s a lot of good teams down there like Santa Barbara, Mira Costa, Los Alamitos, Oaks Christian… so we like the top half of the bracket,” Nesmith said. “Guys are excited to get into these all or nothing games… I call this the player’s season. They really get to perform and have big games and that’s what makes the difference in the playoffs. We need our big studs to come through.”
Wilson seniors like Gray Carson, Zac Crenshaw and Hank Rivers have multiple years of varsity experience, which will be rare this season because of the last COVID-19 year. Carson, a UCLA commit, has been taking over games lately with his strength, and Rivers has been a pivotal role player in his return.
Nesmith added that very happy the Moore League got some respect in the polls and favorable draws in the brackets.
“This is what it’s all about with good parity and equity,” Nesmith said. “This is a good opportunity for teams to compete at their level. I think it’s important that the first run (of this version of the playoffs) seems to be working well.”
Wilson boys’ water polo has won 12 CIF championships since 1981, but hasn’t won a title since 2011.