The Blue Raiders entered the state championship seeded second, but had to battle through the field after an opening game loss in the second round to Sevier County by a score of 7-4. The Blue Raiders were shuffled to the loser’s bracket and had to win out to get to the championship game.
The Cleveland water polo team defeated its next opponent, St. Benedict from Memphis, by a score of 16-4. Cleveland's next opponent was L&N Stem Academy, from Knoxville. The Blue Raiders water polo team sent them home with their second loss by a score of 19-4.
Cleveland's next opponent was Sevier County, a team that had beaten the Blue Raiders earlier in the day. Cleveland got started early and when the contest was over the Blue Raiders had avenged the earlier loss and sent the Sevier County team home early, winning by a score of 18-11.
The win set Cleveland up to face the No. 1-seeded Bearden squad. In a game that kept fans from both teams on their feet through its entirety, Bearden won the state championship by a score of 8-7.
“I am extremely proud of the effort that my players exhibited through the course of the day. We made it difficult for ourselves, but found what we needed to get things turned around and finish strongly. It’s always a little bitter not to accomplish your ultimate goal, but I can truly say that the experience is in the journey and not in the finish concerning this year,” stated Davis.
“We started with 24 kids who had never played the game and most who had never swam competitively and worked our way into a position to challenge for the state title. I have worked with many students over my past four years at Cleveland High School and this was an exceptional group. I am excited about the future of water polo in Tennessee, and I'm happy that these students and athletes had the opportunity to experience the game. In two months the water polo team learned the skills and rules of the game, traveled to Memphis and St. Louis to compete in tournaments and ended up second in the state,” Davis said.
The Cleveland team will continue to compete through the summer in Dalton, Knoxville and Atlanta.