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Hoover good to last shot

Water polo: Kaplanyan hits tying shot to force overtime, then scores game-winning goal.

November 12, 2011|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com

BURBANK — Late in Saturday afternoon's CIF Southern Section Division V quarterfinal boys' water polo match between host Hoover High and second-seeded Palm Desert at Burbank High, the Aztecs erupted in celebration while holding a one-goal lead as the final buzzer blared.

About 10 minutes later, the Tornadoes did the same thing.

Palm Desert's exultation turned out to be premature, as a timekeeping error at the scorer's table put time back on the clock and gave Hoover a second chance to tie the game in regulation. Senior utility Hakop Kaplanyan came through with the tying tally to send the match, and his stellar high school career, to overtime. There he scored three more goals, including the game-winner of a 16-15 nailbiter that launched the Tornadoes into Wednesday's semifinals three days after he scored a game-winner in regulation to lift his team through the opening round.

"It was crazy," said Kaplanyan, whose team will next meet Pasadena Poly in a semifinal match at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Mount San Antonio College. "We went to quarterfinals [my sophomore] year and I said to myself I'm not going out in the quarterfinals, I need to get to the semifinals. [Regulation] last minute, overtime last minute, I'm just there for my team every time."

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Kaplanyan scored seven of his match-high 10 goals in the fourth quarter and overtime, including a lob halfway through the second half of overtime that pulled Hoover (17-6) back even at 15 after Palm Desert's Brett Shepard had scored a go-ahead goal midway through the first half of the extra session.

The two teams then traded turnovers on four consecutive possessions before Hoover called timeout with the ball with 23 seconds left. Eleven seconds later, Kaplanyan scored on an assist from Hakop Baghumian to put the Tornadoes up, 15-14. Grant Stein answered for the Aztecs with his ninth goal of the contest with six seconds left, giving Hoover one more chance to end it before having to go to sudden-death overtime.

In a play reminiscent of his buzzer-beater to get by Walnut in the first round on Wednesday, Kaplanyan measured his shot and launched a goal from halfway across the pool, this time leaving but a few tenths of a second remaining for the Aztecs.

"As tired as you're going to be, you just have to give it your best because you never know when it's going to be your last game," Kaplanyan said. "I just [stayed] calm. Every time you're more calm, you get more shots off and you play your own game."

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