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'The best' gets better

Hakop Kaplanyan adjusted to new role with Tornadoes in 2010 following record-breaking season

January 15, 2011|By Charles Rich, charles.rich@latimes.com
(Cheryl A. Guerrero…)

He might have stood a chance at shattering his state record for most goals in a season. However, Hakop Kaplanyan chose to make sacrifices.

In 2009, Kaplanyan, a junior utility player on the Hoover High boys' water polo team, scored a state-best 229 goals. Having not forgotten the cherished mark, Kaplanyan was ready to dive into the 2010 campaign ready and quite possibly able to eclipse that mark. Instead, he was given additional responsibilities by Hoover Coach Ara Oganesyan on both ends of the pool, allowing him to become a more polished player and providing the Tornadoes an added dimension with a diversified offense.

"Whatever Coach Oganesyan tells me, it's for the best of the team," said Kaplanyan, who finished with an area-leading 138 goals and added 48 assists and 62 steals this season to help Hoover place third in the competitive Pacific League and to an appearance in the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs. "It's about being able to follow directions and improving our team whatever way we can.

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"Some people might have a problem with that. It bothered me a little at first because I wanted to come back and try to break my record. … The IQ of our team became much higher. You learn that you can't be selfish and I was able to play well defensively and that helped improve my overall game."

Still, Kaplanyan's overall statistics didn't go unnoticed. He became a more versatile player and gained acclaim just the same. He was named the league's most valuable player for the first time and he secured All-CIF accolades once again.

It's for those reasons that he was unanimously voted the 2010 All-Area Boys' Water Polo Player of the Year by the editors and sportswriters of the Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader and La Cañada Valley Sun for the second consecutive season.

"Overall, it was a satisfying season for me," Kaplanyan said. "I'm fine with it."

With more of Kaplanyan's teammates involved with the offense, Kaplanyan still commanded plenty of attention. Some teams saw best to assigning one player to defend Kaplanyan, while others opted to double-team or even triple-team the physical specimen.

"With Hakop, he did become a more well-rounded player this year," Oganesyan said. "It was a goal of ours before the season began to get more people involved trying to score.

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