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Burroughs boys’ water polo knocks Hoover off pedestal

BURBANK – Only one thing was missing for the Burroughs High boys’ water polo team in a magical 2016 campaign that included 25 victories and a first-ever CIF Southern Section Division V championship.

The Indians were denied a Pacific League crown by Hoover, which clinched its first league title since 1989 last season.

A year later and the now-Division III Indians revived the dream of claiming the program’s first league title since an Almont League championship in 1994 by defeating the visiting upper-division Tornadoes, 23-12, on Thursday afternoon.

The victory snapped Hoover’s league winning streak at 11 games, as the Tornadoes (10-5, 3-1 in league) hadn’t dropped a league match since losing the league tournament championship game to Crescenta Valley, 8-5, on Nov. 5, 2015.

For Burroughs (10-9, 3-0), the victory avenged a 17-8 loss to the Tornadoes in last season’s league tournament championship at Burbank High on Nov. 3.

“We were looking forward to a good game and that’s what they gave us, so it’s a little bit of an upset,” Burroughs coach Jacob Cook said. “We were looking to come out strong against them.

“This is nice because this is the only thing we didn’t do last season. We won CIF, but we didn’t win league last year. So, that’s our goal this year to win and get our year up in the gym next to our CIF championship.”

Hoover netted a score from Armando Honarchian (team-high four goals) off an assist from Robert Akopyan on a six-on-five opportunity with 0.9 seconds left that pulled the Tornadoes within 15-10 at the end of three quarters.

Hoover junior David Ashkarian (three goals) then punched in a rebound goal on another man-advantage opportunity for the Tornadoes to bring the visitors within 15-11 with 5:36 left.

Just as Hoover was making its last rush, Burroughs countered behind senior David Arakelyan, who led all scorers with nine goals, five assists and three steals.

The All-Area first-team senior attacker scored two straight goals, the second created off a steal from Vahagn Saakyan (three goals) that put the Indians ahead, 17-11, with 4:58 left.

While Hoover received a goal from Hayk Nazaryan (two goals) at the three-minute mark to cut its deficit to 17-12, the Indians didn’t allow the Tornadoes any closer.

Arakelyan scored three more goals in the quarter as the Indians pulled away for an 11-goal victory aided by Hoover pulled out its starters with a little less than two minutes left.

“It’s amazing,” Arakelyan said. “I don’t think we’ve beaten Hoover in a couple of years, so to get this win, especially against a tough Hoover team, by that much is really amazing for our team. We’ve been working hard in practice and we got off to a good start.”

Burroughs scored the game’s first three goals and led, 5-2, after one quarter.

The Indians won the second quarter, 3-2, to take an 8-4 lead into the break after a second quarter highlighted by wackiness.

The head official stopped the contest with 4:39 left in the first half to give a yellow card to both sides for simulation, as he maintained both teams were feigning injuries.

Hoover was down, 8-3, when freshman Hakop Ansuryan connected on a 20-meter laser of a goal with one second left that brought the Tornadoes within four goals at the break.

Burroughs also won the third quarter, 7-6, to take a five-goal lead into the fourth.

JJ Ambartsumyan and Arthur Sefayan added four goals each for Burroughs, while goalies David Jimenez and Simon Kharazyan combined for 12 saves and four steals.

Hoover goalie Henry Pruett tallied 11 saves and two steals.

“We have to correct a lot of mistakes and [after the game] we talked about what needs to be improved,” Hoover coach Kevin Witt said. “You know, I did a lot of things incorrectly in coming up with match-ups and coming up with the defensive scheme and adjusting to their offense. I take a lot of the responsibility.”

andrew.campa@latimes.com

Twitter @campadresports

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