SH Prep top seed in prestigious boys water polo tournament

Andrew Churukian scored four times, had an assist and made two steals in Sacred Heart Prep's 18-9 win over Serra.

The Sacred Heart Prep boys water polo team didn't have much time to celebrate its 18-9 West Catholic Athletic League victory over visiting Serra on Wednesday night. The Gators are making final preparations for its visit to Harvard-Westlake School the next three days.

Sacred Heart Prep is participating in the Elite 8 tournament for the second consecutive year. It brings together eight of the top water polo teams in the nation. Of course, six of those schools are located in southern California and all of them are in California.

Sam Untrecht
The Gators (2-0, 2-0) are in Bracket A along with Oaks Christian, Loyola and Vista. The otyher bracket consists of Huntington Beach, Harvard-Westlake, Agoura and northern Califonria's Miramonte.

SH Prep opens with the Panthers of Vista at 5:15 p.m. Thursday and then meets the Loyola Cubs at 8:45 a.m. Friday and the Oaks Christian Lions at 1:45 p.m.

The top two teams in each bracket play in the championship semifinals Saturday and the other four teams play for the consolation title.

The Gators are seeded No. 1 in the tournament, though they started the season ranked third in the nation. Huntington Beach is the second seed, followed by Harvard-Westlake and Oaks Christian.

Both Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo School, currently ranked fifth in northern California have benefited from this tournament as southern California water polo fans use it to determine the top teams in the state.

It helps the Knights, who are entered in this weekend's CCS/NCS Challenge, because of being a common opponent with the Gators in addition to their own strength of schedule.

This is serious competition and every match will be live streamed.

Sacred Heart Prep has scored 40 goals in its first two WCAL games and neither has been much of a contest. The weekend will be a little different.

Alex Tsotadze and Andrew Churukian each scored four goals to lead the Gators past the Padres. Larsen Weigle added three goals.

Michael Sonsini also added a goal and recorded a pair of assists. Weigle, Churukian and Chris Rowland each had two steals.

Goalie Alexander Nemeth recorded 11 saves over the first three periods before giving way to John Petrakian.

Menlo also had an easy task Wednesday, beating Carlmont, 20-2, with Chris Ponterio scoring four times. Jack King and Sam Untrecht each three goals. Niko Bhatia, Miller Geschke and Jayden Kunwar each added two.

The Knights (6-1, 2-0) will meet host Acalanes, Gunn and Monte Vista in group play Friday and then participate in placement contests Saturday.

Menlo, which finished 13th in the national high school tournament over the summer, has reached double figures in each of its past six games, which includes a 41-8 margin over PAL teams. Josh Poulos has been effective in goal as a full-time starter.

In another PAL game, Menlo-Atherton (4-3, 1-0) beat Woodside, 12-5, on Wednesday. M-A goalie Noah Smith is considered one of the top in the country. He was the co-MVP, with Nemeth, of the national championship Junior Olympic Stanford A team this summer.

Giorgio Fatica and Levi Vigdorchik each scored twice for the Wildcats (3-2, 1-1).

Menlo-Atherton plays at Menlo at 5 p.m. next Wednesday. Woodside travels to Burlingame to play at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Palo Alto plays at Gunn on Thursday at 6:45 p.m.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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