Boys water polo: Naperville Central's hot streak continues at Mundelein

By Lou Nunez Jr.
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 4/22/2023 6:28 PM

Saturday's Mundelein boys water polo quadrangular was in a way a multi-front battle that the host school along with visiting foes Naperville Central, Conant and Homewood-Flossmoor faced.

First, the obvious three games that each played vs. one another had the regular eight minute game quarters trimmed to six minutes per period.


Next came the fact that each team would have to power through playing a total of 18 minutes as they treaded the Botini Natatorium waters testing each players' stamina.

Last but not least was the additional challenge that both Conant and Naperville Central had to face as they ended up playing consecutive games due to how the schedule broke down.

When it was all said and done it was the Redhawks who emerged with a 3-0 mark and the title as it played a dominating blend of water polo. The Redhawks bested H-F 14-5, the host Mustangs 11-6, and topped it off with a 15-5 win over the Cougars to extend their win streak to 9 games and 12 in its last 13.

"We have moments of brilliance and moments of what the heck?" Central coach Bill Salentine said. "We play well, we play as a team and we do everything right and then there's other games where we kind of forget all that. So we're hoping (that) we're on the road toward good team-oriented water polo."

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Salentine's hopes were fanned by how his team (17-4) played throughout the day.

In their game one win over the Vikings (5-16), it scored the first nine goals as junior Jack Gervase and senior Quintet Sanders scored two goals apiece as it led 9-1 at halftime.

In their second contest against Mundelein (19-9), a pair of Aaron Hunter scores in the final two minutes of half number one spurred them into the third where it pulled away by outscoring the hosts 3-1. That gave them a comfortable 9-4 advantage heading into the fourth.

In their final contest of the day Central went on an 8-0 first-half surge after spotting Conant (3-15) an early 2-1 lead.

Naperville Central was led by three of junior Henry LaPerna's four tallies to go up 9-3 at the break and 12-5 after three.

It also gave him his second four-goal game as he hit that mark in game two vs. Mundelein as part of a nine-goal total that he tied Mundelein senior Jonny Gray for the invite.


He credited the team's weekly conditioning program which features swimming 4,000 yards in four practices per week which contributed to successful player rotations throughout the quad.

"It gives us a lot of energy that we're able to go through with these games," LaPerna said. "I think the rotations worked very well. It was key that we got people in and out so that we would have strength that last game."

Mundelein coach Russ Gates praised his unit's depth which allowed it to take two of three contests.

"We're relying on our entire team," Gates said. "It's not just the starting seven guys. We went all the way down through the entire roster and all those guys stepped up big."

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