Winter Sports Wrap-up at PaliHi
The Palisades High girls (12-3 overall) won the Western League (9-0) and were seeded sixth in the City Section Division I tournament.
The Dolphins beat Bravo 5-0 in the first round, but then traveled to San Pedro, where they lost to third-seeded San Pedro, 1-0, ending their season. Granada Hills won the championship, defeating El Camino Real in a shootout.
Last year, Pali lost in the championship game to El Camino 2-1. Of the 23 girls on this year’s roster, coach Christian Chambers had seven seniors.
PaliHi (14-3-1 overall) won the Western League (9-0-1), but had to win a play-in game against Community Charter, 3-0, in order to reach the City Section Division I tournament.
After winning their first-round game, 2-1 over Hawkins, the Dolphins upset second-seeded El Camino, 2-1, in the quarterfinals. Their run ended on February 19 when they lost to third-seeded San Fernando, 2-0. San Fernando then lost to Birmingham in the championship game, 3-0.
David Suarez, who has been the boys’ varsity coach for 11 seasons, is stepping down. His teams reached the City quarterfinals four times, the semifinals twice, the championship round twice, and won the championship in 2016.
The Dolphins were 13-14 during the regular season and 6-5 in Western League action, behind basketball powerhouses Fairfax (10-0) and Westchester (8-2), plus University (7-3).
In the CIF City Division I tournament, the fourth-seeded Dolphins beat South Gate, 60-39, but lost in the quarterfinals to View Park 70-64.
Pali had a relatively young team, with only five seniors out of 17 players on the roster, which should bode well for next year for Coach Donzell Hayes.
GIRLS WATER POLO
“We finally got rid of the curse,” said Palisades High girls water polo coach Kirk Lazaruk, after the team’s 13-8 victory over Birmingham on February 14.
This was the girls’ first Division I City Section championship since the sport was reintroduced at Pali in 2011-2012.
Overall the girls were 8-0 in league and 25-3 for the season.
After winning the City title, Pali was seeded eighth in the Division II SoCal Girls Water Polo Championships and played top-seeded Schurr (Montebello) in the first round. The Dolphins lost 16-3 and Schurr then defeated Oaks Christian and Coronado to win the tournament.
Even though he has a young team—of the 17 players, only five are seniors–Lazaruk praised the leadership and maturity of his players.
WRESTLING, Boys and Girls
The City Section wrestling finals were held on February 15-16. Coached by Michael Lawlor, the Dolphins took fifth with Luke Hansen advancing to the State meet in Bakersfield in the 160-pound weight. He was the sole Pali wrestler to advance.
Parsa Pourmoula took second in the 128-pound weight class, and Knikolaus Meeks (222 pounds) and Immanuel Newell (287 pounds) finished fourth in their respective divisions.
None of the Pali girls placed this year. Last year freshman Lily Topputo took third.
The state meet was held at Rabobank Arena on February 22-23, with Hansen losing in the first round to Jayden Smith from Brawley.
PaliHi took third in last year’s City finals and senior Hamzah Al-Saudi, under coach Aldo Juliano, became the school’s first wrestler to place at the California state wrestling championships, finishing fifth.
Palisades resident Aaron Galef, who wrestled at PaliHi for three years, transferred to Birmingham this year following last year’s coaching change. The senior won the 145-pound City title and was named Most Valuable Wrestler in the lower weight divisions, helping Birmingham capture the team title.
At the state meet, Galef lost in the first round to Brock Rogers from Corcoran.