PHARR PSJA High’s boys and girls water polo teams both claimed championships Saturday at the PSJA ISD Second Annual Fall Water Polo Shootout at the Pharr Natatorium.

PSJA High’s boys held off a late push from PSJA North for an 11-9 victory and PSJA High’s girls followed it with a 6-5 come-from-behind win to earn first place in the 10-team and eight-team tournaments, respectively.

“We’ve been working hard since July 31st, so it’s very nice to see results this early in the season,” PSJA High boys and girls head coach Pedro Saavedra said. “Like I told the kids, hard work pays off and we got two of them today. It’s all thanks to their teamwork.”

PSJA High’s Jesus Sanchez scored five of his six goals in the first half against rival PSJA North. The Raiders won last year’s district championship, but the Bears were the ones who won Saturday’s early non-district preview of the top teams in 32-6A.

PSJA High’s Jesus Sanchez (11) take a shot on the goal against PSJA North in a PSJA Water Polo Tournament final at the PSJA Natatorium on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, in Pharr. (Joel Martinez | [email protected]

PSJA North trailed 7-2 at the half but worked their way back into the game off goals from Kaleb Dallas, Jonathan Davila, JosueRocha and Jayden Ybarra. Each time the Raiders closed the gap, however, the Bears found a way to answer. Jai Arenas, Pedro Cantu, Isaac Garza, Christopher Gonzales and Sanchez scored PSJA High’s goals.

PSJA High’s Mario Carrillo (8) defends against PSJA North’s Jayden Ybarra (8) in a PSJA Water Polo Tournament final at the PSJA Natatorium on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, in Pharr. (Joel Martinez | [email protected]

“It was scary because we know what they’re capable of, but we also know what we’re capable of,” Sanchez said. “It was a good game and we both played as good as we can. We’re not finished, we still have the district title and hopefully we can win that too.”

Kailey Vera led PSJA High’s girls team with seven goals in a back-and-forth bout against Harlingen South in the girls championship game. The Hawks won last year’s District 32-6A title and defeated PSJA High twice during district competition.

South pulled ahead 6-5 after three quarters off goals from Mia Hinojosa, Isabela Pereda, Eliana Wainscott and Sophia Williams,but PSJA’s Vera scored the only points of the fourth quarter which proved to be the game-tying goal and game-winner.

“Since it’s my senior year, it feels great to come out with a win in the first tournament here back home,” Vera said. “With it being both the boys and the girls taking the win today, we know we’re going to go back home and practice because these teams are going to come back strong and try to get that win, so we have to come back even stronger.”

PSJA High’s boys topped Harlingen South 15-3 and PSJA North defeated Sharyland Pioneer 7-6 in the semifinals to set up the boys championship game. Harlingen South’s boys beat Mission to earn third place.

PSJA High’s girls got past Harlingen High 9-5 and Harlingen South went to work with a 20-0 win over Sharyland Pioneer to set up the girls championship match. Harlingen High’s girls defeated Pioneer for third place.

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