They had finished second-last in 2015, a mighty fall from grace for a defending champion.
But the B Division water polo boys of Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) redeemed themselves yesterday by regaining the title.
They beat Outram Secondary 5-3 in the Schools National B Boys' final at the Co-Curricular Activities Branch swimming complex.
Losing four out of five games last year proved a wake-up call for many of the ACS(I) players, team captain Sean Sng told The Straits Times.
"We trained really hard after our poor performance last year as we did not want to taste the same feeling of bitterness from our defeats," he said. "There was a difference in our training. Most of us started becoming more serious during the drills and we gave 120 per cent throughout the season."
ACS(I) coach Luo Nan believes that rebuilding the team's shattered confidence after last year's disappointing result was crucial towards reclaiming the title yesterday.
"After last year's performance, the first thing I had to do was to rebuild their confidence, which I felt was more important than actual training," the 36-year-old said.
"So I had them playing against our senior A Division boys during training and told them that if they could take on the older boys, they could match anyone."
That confidence saw them storming to a 3-0 lead after the first quarter yesterday, with goals from Sean, Joshua Ong and Joseph Cheng.
While Outram replied through Lum Jing Hao and Ayers Fong in the second quarter, ACS(I) maintained their three-goal cushion with Chris Chan and Joshua getting on the scoresheet.
Outram battled on and Jing Hao added one more in the final quarter but ACS(I) held on to claim their fifth title in seven years.
Outram had lost a preliminary tie to the same opponents 5-12 just 13 days earlier and their captain Donovan Chooi felt the team had put up an improved showing.
"We had analysed the way they played from the previous game so we tried to customise our attack and defence to give us a chance of beating them," he said. "We tried our best but ACS(I) were the better team and deserved their win."