As a sophomore, Lee Begin was part of the Garces boys water polo team's Central Section Division III title win over Fresno-Edison. The Tigers defeated the Rams in the semifinals last season.
That agony ate at Begin, one of only two returning starters from last season.
The Rams took another step toward giving Begin another shot at a title with a 13-10 win over Lemoore on Tuesday in the D-II semifinals at the Salvucci Aquatic Center.
The Rams (25-6) will host Porterville-Monache in the finals at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.
“It’s super exciting,” Begin said. “Sophomore year we won Valley and a really tough loss last year. So I think we are all fired up.”
Jason Gall took over the program before the season and said he has seen a lot of improvement from his young squad throughout the year.
“It’s great. This boys team has had a lot of success, but in reality there is only one or two returning varsity players,” Gall said. “We’ve got a first-year goalie and a lot of underclassmen.
“They have come a long way from the beginning of the season and I am pleased to play for the championship on Thursday.”
Grayden Reynolds scored nine of the Rams' goals. The junior transfer from Liberty has been a dominating force in the middle for Garces all year.
“He draws two, three or four guys and he’s still able to score,” Gall said. “It’s really amazing to watch because teams think they are going to triple-team him and he still finds a way to score.”
Begin had a team-high three assists for the Rams and also scored twice. But those statistics are not everything that the senior brings to the table, according to Gall.
“Lee is one our veteran guys,” Gall said. “He has the most game experience … He does a lot where you see it on the scoreboard. Then defensively he’s matched up against the opponent's best player and they aren’t scoring.”
Ostin Woodfin had seven saves for Garces.
West, BHS fall in section tennis finals: Bakersfield, the No. 3 seed in the Central Section Division II girls tennis team playoffs, lost to No. 1 Visalia-Redwood on Tuesday on the road. The Rangers clinched the title after winning the No. 1 doubles match.
West, the No. 3 seed, fell to No. 1 Corcoran in the D-III finals after singles matches in a 5-1 loss.