Kaleb Archer, you just scored six goals in the Valley championship game, leading the Buchanan Bears to a third consecutive title in front of a packed house at the Fresno State Aquatics Center, how are you going to celebrate?
“Team party at John’s Incredible Pizza.”
That’s the boys Buchanan boys water polo team summed up in a heartbeat, a talented and fun squad that dismantled Central Section opponents all season, leaving no doubt in a resounding 14-5 victory over second-seeded Righetti for the Division I Central Section title.
Oh yeah, and the cherry on top for Archer? It was his 18th birthday.
“I’m just ecstatic right now,” Archer said. “We dream about moments like this when we get to play in front of our family and friends. To do that tonight was awesome.
“This is what I dreamed about as a little kid and this was pretty cool to see it come to fruition like this.”
The fervent Buchanan student section even paid tribute to the four-year starter, who is attending Harvard University, in a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” in between the third and fourth quarter.
After Righetti scored the game’s first goal, Archer responded with the first of his three first-period goals.
“He’s a special kid, very smart and talented,” Buchanan coach Nic Maes says about Archer. “He was a pleasure to coach.”
Gabe Putnam and Caleb Teroka added goals for Buchanan and a 5-2 first quarter lead.
In the second quarter, Archer’s fourth goal and one from Tyler Mansheim gave the Bears a 7-2 halftime lead.
The Bears (24-6) cruised in the second half for the 14-5 victory.
“It was a long day waiting for six o’clock to get here but it feels awesome,” Maes said after the traditional jump in the pool. “Every year is special and the fact that this one was a three-peat made it that much more special.”
On the road to the title game, Buchanan beat Redwood 21-5 and Clovis 12-4 after a perfect 10-0 in league.
The Warriors, from the Central Coast in their first year in the Central Section playoffs, came in 21-10 on the year including 10-0 in league.
But they were no match for a Buchanan team that averaged 14 goals a game led by Archer’s 4.4.
Archer is part of a senior class that includes four-year starters Gabe Putnam (four goals in championship game), Zach Zetz (one goal) and goalie Connor Schink, who recorded 10 saves.
“That jump in the pool doesn’t get old – it’s special to look in the eyes of the other coaches and the players after a win like that,” Maes said. “I couldn’t ask for a better way to go out for our seniors.”