The NFL had its Har-Bowl last year, when head coaching brothers Jim and John Harbaugh met in the Super Bowl.
Wednesday marked the third Halpin Bowl in girls water polo when Los Banos’ girls team, coached by Bo Halpin, defeated Billy Halpin’s Livingston squad 15-2. Bo coached at Central Catholic last year, while Billy Halpin’s program is in its second year. Both are sons of long-time Merced College coach Bill Halpin.
“You know, it’s always fun playing my brother, and we always kid each other around a little bit,” Bo Halpin said. “But he’s never beat me, so… I’m 3-0 against him. He’s got his work cut out for him.”
It helps that Bo took over a team that won the WAC a year ago and returned a strong core of players. Goalkeeper Sydney Gerstenberg kept the LB goal relatively clean with 15 blocks, while Cheyenne Ritchey (5 goals), Mackenzie Hurley (4 goals) and Caitlin Downward (4 goals) kept things moving on the other end of the pool.
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Ritchey scored the first four Los Banos goals, and one more as LB jumped out to a 9-0 halftime lead. Livingston got one to start the second half after spending most of the first half taking pot shots from the perimeter.
The win left Los Banos (8-5, 3-0 WAC) in sole possession of first place in the WAC after Monday’s 14-5 win over Ceres.
“Big win for us. I lost sleep over that game,” Halpin said. “Playing it in Ceres’ pool, it’s a narrow pool. That pool is shallow, it’s always a great equalizer, and they’re a talented program too, so that was a big win for us, just to take the lead in WAC play.”
On Monday, LB will complete the first leg of league play against Pacheco (1-2).
“Pacheco’s always tough, playing a cross-town rival, and Jill (Brooks) has done a great job with that program,” Halpin said. “So I’m sure I’ll lose some sleep over that one too.”
The Tigers spent the preseason at a pair of tournaments, and finished the Sunnyside tournament with tough losses to Buhach Colony and Ripon.
“League is relatively new, but we’ve learned a lot, progressed a lot in just our abilities on offense and defense,” Halpin siad. “And I think if you ask any of these girls, from where we were two weeks ago to where we are today, we’re a much better team, because of the tournaments. It’s showed in our league play.”