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Southridge boys race on to state semifinals

Southridge gets ready for a run at the high school state crown

CORVALLIS - It's been so far so good for the Southridge boys water polo team in the state playoffs.

Actually, that's not quite true - it's more like so very, very good so far.

The Skyhawks went 2-0 on Saturday in the Oregon High School State Water Polo Playoffs at Osborn Aquatic Center, routing Barlow 21-8 in its opener, then turning up the volume yet another notch in their 17-4 victory over Lakeridge in the quarterfinals.

Next up, Southridge will face Mt. Hood Conference champion Reynolds in the state semifinals at 7:20 a.m. Friday at Osborn. With a win there, the Skyhawks (17-0 overall) would advance to face either Southern Valley champ South Eugene or Pacific Conference champ Newberg in the state championship at 7 p.m. Saturday. With a semifinal loss, Southridge would face the loser of the South Eugene/Newberg game for third place at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Dedication to their eventual team goal of a state championship has been key to the team's success, coach Erik Akerman said.

'The boys have been determined to individually improve during swim and club season so that they can come together and have a really strong high school team,' said Akerman, whose team was third in 2010.

In the win over Barlow, the fourth-place team from the Mt. Hood Conference, Southridge blasted out to an early 7-3 lead, moved ahead 10-5 at halftime, then put the game out of reach with an 8-0 scoring edge in the third period.

Sophomore David Stiling got things rolling with three goals in the opening quarter, three different players scored in the second, then Stiling (three goals) and senior Kyle Blandin (four goals) teamed up to put the game away in the third.

Stiling and Blandin finished with six goals each in the win, while Devon DeJardin poured in four more. Goalie Jamal Teano finished with seven saves, four of those in the fourth quarter. Andy Abelein led Barlow with four.

Suitably warmed up, the Skyhawks really got it going against Lakeridge. Stiling was the main beneficiary for the offense with four first-quarter goals, while teammates Blandin, DJ Heino, Cody Blandin and Blake Hokkanen scored once each in their breakout 8-1 first quarter.

The defense kept the pressure on in the second, held the Pacers to one goal yet again, and got two from Heino and one each by Hokkanen and Kyle Blandin for a commanding 12-2 lead at the half. Teano finished with 10 saves in the game, while Heino, Kyle Blandin and Stiling tied for game-high scoring honors at four each.

John Moon paced Lakeridge with three scores.