February 24, 2024

No team in any sport in the City Section has won more playoff games in a row than Palisades High boys’ water polo, which extended its streak to 42 by routing Granada Hills 23-10 Wednesday night at the L.A. Valley College pool to win its 11th consecutive City championship.

Senior driver Owen Grant scored 12 goals, Charlie Speiser had three and Sean Ellis, Jordan Zaman and Charlie Shortt each added two for the No. 1-seeded Dolphins (17-12), whose run of 11 City titles is the second-longest active streak behind Palisades boys’ tennis, which has 14 in a row, though it has needed fewer wins to achieve them.

“I wasn’t paying attention at all to how many goals I had,” said Grant, who scored seven times in the first half to stake Palisades to an 11-5 lead. “I was going for more assists in the second half, but I got a little greedy.”

Jared Espinoza scored six goals for the second-seeded Highlanders (12-6), who took a 3-0 lead in the first two minutes and were tied 4-4 at the end of the first quarter.

“We seniors talked at the beginning of the season about keeping the dynasty going,” said Grant, whose brother Avery got on the score sheet with 1:11 left in the fourth quarter. “It was important to us.”

Its latest title is Palisades’ 17th. The Dolphins won six in a row from 1973 to ’78 before the sport was discontinued for nearly three decades. It was reinstated in 2008. Birmingham won four titles over five seasons before the Dolphins started their current streak, all under coach Adam Blakis.

Palisades has not suffered a loss in the City playoffs since being eliminated by Cleveland 14-3 in the quarterfinals in 2011.

The next challenge for the Dolphins will be trying to earn their third straight SoCal Regional title and fourth overall. They have captured back-to-back Division III titles, beating Carpinteria in the finals in 2021 and Rancho Bernardo in 2022.

For the first time, the City had enough schools to field two playoff brackets. The four best teams were placed in the Open Division, the next 15 in Division I.

Before Palisades captured the inaugural Open Division title, West Valley League rivals Cleveland and El Camino Real met for the Division I crown and the No. 1-seeded Cavaliers prevailed 9-7 in overtime for their first title since 2010.

Cleveland’s Valentino Sanchez scored to tie it 5-5 with four seconds left in regulation and scored one minute into overtime to give the Cavaliers a lead they would never relinquish. Rohan Toc scored four goals and goalie Gabe Shostak had 15 saves and two goals for the Royals.

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