After claiming its first-ever CIF championship plaque after winning the CIF Southern Section Division V title, it was inevitable that the All-CIF accolades would roll in for the Pasadena Poly boys’ water polo team.
And when the All-CIF rosters were officially released Monday, the Panthers led the way, with junior Spencer Rogers claiming the division’s top honor as its player of the year, Ryan Katsuyama honored as coach of the year and Kelly McGee, Chris McWilliams, Brock Hudnut, Dennis Grover, Josh Ball and Omar Dairi joining on the lengthy honor roll.
As CIF champions, though, the Panthers basked in a monster eight selections, including Katsuyama.
“We obviously had a fantastic season and were rewarded with multiple honors as the Division V champs,” Katsuyama said. “On any given day, any one of the starters could lead our team in goals scored, assists or steals — they all contributed in some way, shape or form to achieving our overall goal and that was to win a CIF title.”
Rogers, the first-ever Panther to receive the CIF’s highest honor, scored a team-high four goals during Poly’s 12-10 championship win over top-seeded Glendale and had a team-high 117 goals along with 57 steals and 51 drawn ejections.
“I’m humbled to win the division’s top award. Your goal isn’t to win those individual awards, but to win as a team,” Rogers said. “When you’re able to win both, it’s awesome.”
The championship was the first in program history for Poly after Katsuyama navigated the Panthers — who previously won the Prep League title — to their third consecutive finals appearance.
“We had some great teams the last two years, but this year’s team might have worked best together,” Rogers said. “It wasn’t about me, it was about everyone. We couldn’t have enjoyed this success if everyone didn’t come to play.”
Hudnut tallied a school-record 117 assists to go with 54 goals and 38 steals.
McGee, like Hudnut and McWilliams, was also a first-team All-Prep League selection after posting 39 goals, 30 assists and 42 steals. McWilliams had 59 goals, 47 steals and 31 assists. McGee, Hudnut and McWilliams were all first-team All-CIF selections.
Both Grover and Ball were second-team All-CIF selections. Ball, a junior goalie, had 266 saves on the season. Grover tallied a line of 45 goals, 60 assists and 47 steals.
Finally, Dairi, a third-team All-CIF selection, had 48 goals, 36 assists and a team-best 61 steals.
“The good news is we have five of our seven starters returning next season, so the pressure will be on Spencer, Brock, Dennis, Josh and Omar to work with two new starters being added to the mix,” Katsuyama said. “Based on how well they adapted this year, I have no doubt that they'll find a way to succeed.”
For the Tigers, who defeated Montebello in the first round before losing to eventual champion M.L. King, Deamer was their leading scorer, tallying 89 goals and 49 steals and a spot on the All-CIF first team.
“When we needed a big shot, Pierce took it and usually made it,” Tigers Coach Robert Echeverria said. “He was a first-team pick last year and he was even strong this year.”
Suarez, a second-team selection, had 77 goals and 34 steals, while Lee was a third-teamer and tallied 38 goals.
Both Deamer and Suarez were first-team All-Rio Hondo League selections, as well, as was goalie Will Rankin, who finished with 297 saves. Lee was a second-team all-league selection.