Boys water polo / MSL title game preview
Hersey (19-5) at Palatine (18-8)
When: 6 p.m. Wednesday
Outlook: Both teams were clearly the best in their divisions of the Mid-Suburban League, as both produced perfect 10-0 records. After they'd clinched their divisional titles, the teams met in tournament play at Glenbrook South, where Hersey prevailed 16-11 on April 26. This is far and away the best boys water polo team in Hersey's history, as George Vladimirov and Jack Carroll seem to alternate as the team's leading scorer and a deep, physical group of starters is capable of making opponents pay for help defenses designed to stop those two. Coach Dick Mortensen has also been pleased with his team's overall polo IQ and willingness to defend. This is Hersey's second straight appearance in the MSL title game (the Huskies lost to Conant's state-qualifying group last spring), but it's the first time in program history the Huskies will finish over .500 at season's end. Palatine's had reliable scoring all year from Wally Kleinfeldt, Omar El Hoffi and Kristiyan Kalev in earning the West title under coach Joe Grzybek. The Pirates also have earned the top seed in the sectional they will host next week -- and the No. 2 seed is Hersey. So it's entirely possible the MSL championship matchup will turn out to be a preview of the sectional final, slated for May 17.
-- Aaron Gabriel