Miners boys water polo team at top of West Yosemite League standings

El Diamante sits alone as the last undefeated team in WYL play with 4-0 start

VISALIA – Following a 2019 Division II Valley Championship win, El Diamante has risen to become one of the strongest programs in the Central Section and consequently the West Yosemite League (WYL). After a slow 2-5 start to the season, the Miners have won nine of their last 12 games including their first four WYL matchups as they sit alone atop the league standings.

For head coach David Mitchell, two games that are circled on the calendar before the season starts are their bouts with the Redwood Rangers. Redwood has set the standard in the WYL, finishing as league champions in six of the last seven seasons. Possibly the biggest win of the season for the Miners so far came last Wednesday when they comfortably defeated the Rangers 18-12.

Things didn’t start out in favor of the Miners as they went down 5-2 after the first quarter against Redwood. The two teams traded goals in the second period with the advantage going to the Rangers until the last few minutes of the period. A switch flipped on defense for El Diamante as they began to figure out the Redwood offense and took an 8-7 lead heading into the halftime break.

“We’ve been planning for this game for a long time,” Mitchell said. “At the start of the second quarter it started clicking and we started playing the scheme that we wanted to play and it was very, very effective. The score just all of a sudden flipped and then we started getting momentum and they started gaining confidence in that defense.”

The Rangers didn’t stay down for long as they scored two quick goals in the opening minutes of the second half to regain a one-point lead. However, they had no answer for El Diamante junior Rylan Montgomery who proceeded to single handedly take over the game and put his team on his back. He scored the goals to give his team the lead in the second quarter and did it again in the third quarter. After the game, his coaches said that the goal looked really big for Montgomery as his 11 goals nearly outscored the entire Redwood team. He went deep in his bag of tricks to put the ball in the net throughout the night. He could put some velocity behind the ball when needed to zip it through the defense, while also showing off a nearly unstoppable floater that he would softly place over the head the goalie.

The Rangers attempted to keep it close before Montgomery and the Miners began pulling away as they were up 15-11 heading into the final period. A strong closeout performance in the fourth quarter saw the Miners go up 18-12 with about two and a half minutes remaining before Redwood waved the white flag and subbed out their starters.

After a big win against their league rival, El Diamante carried their momentum into three more wins in a row. They defeated Mt. Whitney 20-17 for their fourth WYL win and added two more wins in a tournament against a pair of solid teams, Reedley and Tulare Western.

In 2019 El Diamante just barely missed out on a share of the WYL title as they split the season series with Redwood, but lost an additional game to Golden West which put them a game back of first place. This year’s goal is to finish the job as they hope to carry their momentum onward through the final two weeks of the regular season. They played Golden West last night after press time and will begin the second half of their WYL schedule tomorrow at Hanford at 5:30 p.m.

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