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Pacific League share not enough for Hoover boys’ water polo

BURBANK — There was no partying on what was a historic night for the Hoover High boys' water polo team.

If anything, the Tornadoes were talking about what lies ahead.

Top-seeded Hoover was at times overpowering and in other moments very relaxed in a 13-5 victory over No. 4 Arcadia in Tuesday evening's preliminaries of the Pacific League Tournament at Burbank High.

With the victory, Hoover (20-5, 7-0 in league) clinched a share of its first league championship in ages and set itself up for a rematch with No. 2 Burroughs (20-5, 6-1) at Burbank on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

A Tornadoes' victory would clinch the crown outright for the CIF Southern Section Division II eighth-ranked Tornadoes, while giving the team the league's No. 1 seed heading into the Division II playoffs.

A win for the Division V third-ranked Indians would give Burroughs a share of the title and the league's top spot for the postseason.

"I have no idea the last time Hoover won a league title, but it hasn't happened since I've been here," said Hoover Coach Kevin Witt, whose Tornadoes defeated Burroughs, 13-8, in Glendale on Oct. 11. "From today's effort, I think a lot has to improve.

"Burroughs is a good team and we're familiar with each other and I think Thursday's going to be a very good game."

As for Tuesday, Hoover scored seven of the game's first eight goals and raced to a 7-1 advantage after a score from Levon Haik Gukasyan with 4:56 left in the first half.

Perhaps the score put the Tornadoes into a bit of a lull, as the Apaches (13-6, 3-4) scored three of the half's final five goals to pull within 9-4 before the break.

In the second half, a frustrated Witt pulled his entire team out of the water toward the end of the third quarter and inserted his bench.

Hoover won the third quarter, 2-0, before finishing off the fourth quarter, 2-1.

Hoover boasted seven scorers as Harout Ashkharian and Gukasyan finished with a team-high three goals, while David Ashkharian and Hayk Nazarian added two scores each.

Goalie Jonathan Salandi finished with 13 saves for Hoover.

"We know that winning a league championship is a big deal because Hoover hasn't won in a long time," Gukasyan said. "To be honest, it's probably going to be the only sport where we win a league championship this year, so it's exciting. We have one more against Burroughs."

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