Grizz boys, girls rule the pool

Christi Gilmore has seen quality play out of her boys and girls water polo teams in Ashland, but nothing like the Grizzlies showed Saturday afternoon at the Osborn Aquatic Center in Corvallis.

Natalie DelCarlo scored five goals and Carlee Santee added five blocks in goal for Ashland as the Grizzly girls edged Parkrose 12-10 in the Class 5A state championship, while Robin Haase poured in seven goals and Willis Plummer had 15 blocks in goal as the Ashland boys dominated Parkrose 17-9 to claim the 5A boys state title.

"It's pretty cool," Gilmore, in her fourth season as Ashland's coach, said of the two titles. "It was a little unexpected, but I knew we had the potential for both teams. I didn't know we'd pull it off, but they pulled through and did it on their own and did a great job."

The girls' final offered up the most drama, with Ashland taking an 8-4 lead through two periods before Parkrose rallied to trim the Grizzlies' lead to 11-10 in the waning minutes of the fourth period. With 35 seconds to play, Jaci Mairs scored her lone goal of the match to give Ashland a huge cushion and Parkrose was unable to answer.

Allison Gida added four goals and Tori Lipski scored twice for the Grizzlies, but Santee provided the biggest lift with some key blocks.

"She did an amazing job," Gilmore said of the first-team all-state selection.

DelCarlo also earned a first-team nod, while Gida was named MVP.

"Her movements, her skill, her instinct for the game has made her an exceptional player," Gilmore said of Gida. "She pretty much knows how to read people on defense and play her offense accordingly."

Also earning all-state nods for the Grizzlies were Santee (first team), Gida (first team), Lipski (second team) and Xenia Contreras (second team).

Parkrose mounted its comeback when Gilmore pulled Gida out to avoid her getting a third ejection, but the junior returned to help stave off any further comeback.

"They worked really well together," Gilmore said of the Grizzlies.

"They communicated and did all the right passing and played great defense. Both (Ashland) teams actually played great defense and I think that's how they won. Their defense was spectacular."

Haase, a foreign exchange student from Germany, scored a goal 20 seconds into the boys final and the rout was on from there as Ashland took an 8-0 lead after one period.

"They came out hard and heavy and pretty much just disheveled poor Parkrose," said Gilmore. "They didn't know what hit them."

Wynn Michael added five goals, while Lucas Opgenorth scored twice and the Grizzlies got one goal apiece from Troy Robinson, Jake Gavin and Mahkah Wu.

Gilmore said the Ashland boys pulled together like never before in storming to the title.

"For some reason it clicked today and they played the hardest and most fluent I've ever seen a team that's played for me the last four years," she said.

Robinson's relentless defense was key, Gilmore added.

"Our offense worked because we shut them down," she said. "By the second quarter, Parkrose wasn't even setting up offense. They were just sort of floating out there."

Robinson and Haase were first-team all-state selections while Opgenorth, Michael and Plummer, who was pulled when the outcome was clear, were second-team selections. Haase was named MVP after also accounting for five assists and five steals in the championship match.

"He's just a strong-willed kid; he's sort of like a machine out there," said Gilmore of Haase. "He's very skilled."

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