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Davis staples Granite Bay shut in Division I section water polo final

By: Robbie Enos
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After roaring through the regular season and Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, Granite Bay High School’s boys water polo team was stopped short by the right hand of Davis star Connor Stapleton.

Stapleton scored four goals in the Blue Devils’ 13-5 victory over the Grizzlies in the Division I championship game Saturday at the Roseville Aquatics Complex. Davis by far is the all-time leader with 14 section titles. Granite Bay has won four crowns, all in Division II, before moving to Division I this fall.

“Connor Stapleton is just a beast out there,” Granite Bay head coach John MacCleane said.

The Grizzlies (22-5 overall) went 12-0 in the Sierra Foothill League and outscored opponents 48-14 in three playoff games after being moved up to Division I this season. But Davis’ interior defense swallowed Granite Bay’s post players whole when the ball was passed inside.

“They were looking to force things in from two meters out,” MacCleane said of his players. “That got us too far behind early in the game to be able to come back and win against a team like Davis.”

Davis ran its offense through Stapleton, who scored two goals in the first period. Granite Bay made it a two-point game in the second period on goals by Alek Dendall and Corey Consunji, but the Blue Devils rattled off five goals to Granite Bay’s one in the rest of the period to take a 9-3 halftime lead.

“We tried to isolate to make their weaker shooters shoot the ball,” MacCleane said. “But they made their shots. Our failure was containing their weaker shooters.”

Jack Ellinthorpe and Nathan Pinkney each scored for the Grizzlies in the second half, but it wasn’t enough.

MacCleane, a veteran coach of 34 years, said this was his favorite team. Granite Bay averaged 17 points in league games.

“This is a great group of guys,” MacCleane said. “I’ve had some great teams and some great players and a lot of people that I have really enjoyed, but the individual personalities of how they mesh together and take care of each other is really great.”

Said Ellinthorpe, “We had a strong senior class and a lot of chemistry. It’s a bunch of great guys. We hang out and have lots of fun.”