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Text by Zach Cavanagh
The winter season at Dana Hills High School brings in high expectations for a handful of teams, including some championship aspirations, while others look to just get a foothold on a rebuild. Let’s check in with all of the Dolphin winter sports teams:
Last season was a high-water mark for the Dana Hills boys basketball program, as the Dolphins reached their first-ever CIF-SS championship game. Dana Hills didn’t come away with the title, nor did the Dolphins advance out of their first-ever home state regional playoff game. However, it was a historic finish for a senior-led team.
When the Dolphins were hot last season, they were led by the scoring of then-senior Griffin Haugh. Thankfully for Dana Hills, the sharp-shooting runs in the family, as now-sophomore Collin Haugh has paced a strong start for the Dolphins this season.
Haugh has averaged 26 points per game in a 6-2 start for Dana Hills with a 41-point opener, as well as a 39-point performance. The sophomore has shot 59% from the field and 55% on 3-pointers—second on the team in both categories. Haugh actually has the same number of two-point attempts as he does 3-point attempts this season.
While Haugh grabs the headlines, three more Dolphins are averaging in double figures. Junior Logan Scodeller is scoring 14.8 points per game, junior Dennis Powers 11.6 points per game and sophomore Jedidiah Condie 10.3 points per game.
Dana Hills hosts San Clemente on Friday, Dec. 16, and opens Sea View League play at Aliso Niguel on Jan. 11.
While the Dana Hills boys had a historic finish to last season, the Dana Hills girls basketball team has had a historic start to this season, with the Dolphins blazing out to a 6-0 start in tournament play. The 6-0 start is the best opening stretch in program history, and the Dolphins are ranked No. 1 in CIF-SS Division 4A.
However, the Dana Hills girls learned the hard way last season not to rest on a strong early start. Last season, the Dolphins opened to records of 6-1 and 9-3 and pushed up to as high as No. 3 in the Division 4A rankings. Then, South Coast League play hit, and Dana Hills again went winless in league (0-8), with their closest margin of defeat at 11 points. Dana Hills ended the year still ranked No. 12 in Division 4A, but missed the playoffs.
Dana Hills hasn’t won a league game or been to the CIF-SS playoffs since 2019, but with another hot start and a drop down to the Sea View League this season, the Dolphins may have the team to return to postseason play.
Dana Hills is led in the middle by senior Lineni Uaine, who has been a rebounding machine for the Dolphins. Uaine is routinely putting up double-doubles and pulled down 20 rebounds on Tuesday, Dec. 6. Esme Korman has been a leading shooter, along with stout play from Madison Dellner.
Dana Hills opens league play at home against El Toro on Jan. 10.
A string of rough seasons continued last year for the Dana Hills boys soccer team. The Dolphins won just three games for the second straight season and posted their third consecutive losing record overall and in Sea View League play. Dana Hills scored just 15 goals in 16 games while allowing 37 goals.
This season has provided a bit of everything in a 1-1-1 start for the Dolphins.
Dana Hills had a solid win with a 3-1 victory over Northwood in its opener. The Dolphins then were beaten by an always-elite San Clemente, 5-0. Dana Hills rebounded with a 1-1 draw against Portola to even its record across the board.
Eight of the Dolphins’ first nine games are at home before opening the Sea View League at Trabuco Hills on Jan. 11.
The entire Dana Hills soccer program has experienced low points over the past several seasons. On the girls side, the Dolphins haven’t won more than three games and just eight games combined over the past four seasons. Dana Hills hasn’t posted a non-losing league record since 2018 and a winning record overall since 2017.
Last season, the Dolphins won three games and scored only 11 goals in 16 games while allowing 31 goals. However, Dana Hills did end the season on a positive note by winning its final two games.
This season, Dana Hills has opened with a pair of draws. The Dolphins played to a 1-1 tie with Laguna Beach and held Northwood scoreless, 0-0.
Dana Hills opens league play with two home games against the two teams it beat to end last season, El Toro on Jan. 10 and Mission Viejo on Jan. 17.
Girls Water Polo
Of all the Dana Hills winter sports teams, the girls water polo team is set up for the most success, and the Dolphins are showing it with a 6-1 start to the season.
Dana Hills graduated only two players from its starting lineup last season, which earned the No. 3 seed in CIF-SS Division 3 and ran into a hot goalkeeping performance in the quarterfinals. After that quarterfinal loss, head coach Carrie Ross saw the finish as what might have been a necessary experience for a group looking to push to the program’s second CIF-SS title game and the first since 2019. The Dolphins have never won a CIF-SS championship.
Dana Hills is led by returning All-CIF scorer Sadie Riester, who signed to play Division 1 water polo at Loyola Marymount University next year. Riester has 30 of Dana Hills’ 84 goals through the first seven games, along with 11 assists and 14 steals.
Fellow senior Kate McCulloch is the other offensive power for the Dolphins, with 22 goals and 12 assists, and she’s a two-way star with a team-high 26 steals. Senior Emma McCulloch has racked up 16 steals and is third in goals with eight. Senior Madeline Maxwell and sophomore Roya Goldstein have held it down in the cage, with an average of six goals allowed per game.
Dana Hills opens league play at home against Trabuco Hills on Jan. 12 and hosts rival San Clemente on Jan. 21.
The Dana Hills boys wrestling team returns four of its five CIF-SS qualifiers from last season, including Zack Harkey, Bobby Baeder, Joshua Jacob and Damon Estrada.
The Dolphins have already collected medals from early-season meets, with Harkey placing at both the Costa Mesa Classic and Cossarek Classic. Bryan Carmago also placed at both events. Jacob, Nelson Lecona and Sean Taylor have already earned medals this season.
The Dolphin boys will wrestle at the San Clemente Rotary Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 10, and host Mission Viejo for a dual meet on Tuesday, Dec. 13.
The Dana Hills girls wrestling team enters its second season as a full unit. The Dolphins will also wrestle Mission Viejo in the dual meet on Tuesday.
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is a California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports . Email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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