Long Beach Poly Water Polo

SEASON PREVIEW: Long Beach Poly Boys’ Water Polo

The562’s coverage of Aquatic sports in Long Beach is sponsored by the Aquatic Capital of America Foundation.

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly is sponsored by Bryson Financial.

The Jackrabbits are trying to roll over the momentum they gained by beating rival Wilson at the Moore League boys’ swimming finals that snapped a 49-year Bruins winning streak.

“They really enjoyed the feeling, beating them in swim, that got them really fired up,” said Poly coach Ish Pluton, who is entering his eighth year coaching his alma mater. “It’s exciting to beat your league rival. The bar is set high. Wilson is a strong program. I love that my team collectively decided that’s the bar they want to meet… We always have our eyes on winning the Moore League, and I think we are primed and ready to take it to the Bruins.”

Reece Hammond was Poly’s go-to attacker for two years, and now after his graduation Pluton is looking for his strong junior class to step up in a new system.

“We’re learning how to be a very movement based team,” Pluton said. “We’ll be super active to create all sorts of opportunities out of each and every drive we do. It’s a very fast paced offense, which will work in our favor and open up a lot of shooters.”

Emerson LaPorta, Kyle Oatey, Markus Cruz and Billy Cruz are the top options in attack while junior goalkeeper Sean Karry is back in the cage anchoring the defense after a strong sophomore season. Sharp shooters like All-Moore League attacker LaPorta will be set up a lot if the Jackrabbits find a rhythm with their new style of play.

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Pluton said senior Marckus Cruz, who was First Team All-Moore League last year, and the junior Oatey have emerged as leaders with two very different styles.

“Markus gets everyone fired up and will make the play to get us going, while Oatey is the calm and calculated decision making presence that puts everyone at ease,” he said. Both of them are super water polo smart and bright kids who are upstanding gentlemen. I’m stoked, because my whole team is full of kids like that.”

Center William Morris and utility attack Luke Cassiano will also be in the starting lineup.

For the second straight summer, the 562 Water Polo Club full of Jackrabbits took an offseason trip to Hawaii for a tournament where they finished second. That’s obviously helped the chemistry for a group that was hit hard and separated by the COVID-19 shutdowns.

“We’ve got a lot of really smart, water polo savvy kids returning from last year that really know how to organize themselves and work in a new system,” Pluton said. 

Poly already has quality wins over Pasadena Poly, St. John Bosco and Redondo Union as it prepares for a second year in CIF-SS Division 2 after winning the Division 4 title two years ago.

JJ Fiddler
JJ Fiddler is an award-winning sportswriter and videographer who has been covering Southern California sports for multiple newspapers and websites since 2004. After attending Long Beach State and creating the first full sports page at the Union Weekly Newspaper, he has been exclusively covering Long Beach prep sports since 2007.