Tourney features the best

Bill Barnett, the coach of the Newport Water Polo Foundation 18-and-under team, isn't concerned that the schedules for the girls' teams in the S&R Sport USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics aren't complete.

The tournament starts Thursday in Los Angeles County. Barnett always knows what to expect, no matter the opponent.

"All the teams there are tough," Barnett said. "[Most teams] are composed of players that have graduated [high school]. We're competing with players that are coming back to our high school.

"This is a chance for us to play against a higher level of competition. That's how you get better, playing against teams that are better than you."

Newport and Corona del Mar are the two local programs competing at the four-day girls' tournament.

The boys' four-day tournament features only one local program in Newport. The boys open play today against the Riptides at Whittier High at 7 a.m.

Both the Newport boys' and girls' teams are coming off third-place finishes at the California State High School Championships. CdM's girls placed second in the tournament last week.

Barnett said the girls have never won the 18-and-under tournament, but the younger teams have contended in years past. Newport has teams in the 10-and-under co-ed division and girls' teams in the 12-, 14-, and 16-and-under divisions.

CdM just sent one girls' team.

Newport has three other boys' teams at the tournament, the 12-, 14-, and 16-and-under.

The S&R Sport USA Water Polo National Junior Olympics are in Los Angeles County for the first time. Games will be played at multiple venues, from Los Angeles, to Pasadena, to the City of Commerce, to Whittier.

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