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Hoover boys' water polo tops Santa Ynez in first-round playoff match

ARCADIA — A bag of potato chips and a bottle of Gatorade.

That’s the secret to Hoover High boys’ water polo goalkeeper Henry Pruett’s success in the last run of matches before the Tornadoes’ postseason began.

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Before his CIF Southern Section Division III first-round match against Santa Ynez, Pruett performed the same gastric ritual.

The senior recorded nine saves in the third quarter as Hoover shut out Santa Ynez in that frame. That helped Hoover advance with a 17-12 win at Arcadia High on Tuesday.

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Hoover will host the No. 2 seed Northwood (22-7) in the second-round on Thursday at a place and time to be determined. Northwood defeated Vista Murrieta, 18-9, in its opener Tuesday.

The Tornadoes (18-7) led, 11-8, at halftime and the Pirates were pressuring the home team as the second half began.

“Their team did a great job adjusting to what we were running on offense,” Hoover coach Kevin Witt said. “We had to do a much better job in adjusting to what they were running and things worked out toward the end of [the quarter].

“But for the end-of-the-year water polo, 0-0 is exciting. I’m sure, as a team, Santa Ynez is happy with making those adjustments and playing well in those situations.”

Pruett’s play proved to be the difference, as both sides struggled to find the back of the net for nearly the entire third quarter before Hoover senior David Ashkharian broke the deadlock with 41 seconds left to pull ahead, 12-8.

“I just focused in,” said Pruett, who finished with 13 saves. “My mentality was to just get the ball the whole game.”

Ashkharian led Hoover with five goals, while Jordan Corpuz and Hakop Ansuryan both recorded hat-tricks.

Hoover was aggressive to begin the match, going up, 3-0, with 4:38 left in the first.

The two teams traded a pair of goals and Hoover closed the quarter with a 5-2 lead.

Santa Ynez (17-12; No. 4 from the Channel League) cut the deficit to a two, 6-4, before the Tornadoes added one for a 7-4 lead.

The Pirates continued to pry at the Tornadoes lead, but never got closer than a two-goal difference as the two teams each scored six goals in the second quarter.

“Our guys played great individual defense, as well as help-defense and that really allowed us to limit their solid opportunities on goal,” Witt said.

Hoover, the Pacific League champion, grabbed its largest lead in the match with a 16-10 advantage with 3:20 left.

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