The selected La Cañada High athletes who earned All-CIF Southern Section honors for the winter season were the engines of their respective teams that made deep playoff pushes.
For boys’ basketball, senior Ryan Graves was graced with first-team Division II-A honors, while senior goalkeeper Carolyne Stern received Division II first-team recognition for the Spartans’ girls’ water polo squad.
Graves was instrumental in the Spartans’ lengthy playoff run that stretched to the program’s first CIF Southern Section division title game since 2011.
“He’s one of the great all-time players in La Cañada history, just solid in everything,” La Cañada coach Tom Hofman said. “He’s our best defender, leading scorer, good rebounder and the key for Ryan was that he was such a great leader out there. He really handled the whole team well.”
Graves’ heroics in the CIF Southern Section Division II-A semifinal against Crean Lutheran propelled the Spartans to a 77-74 double-overtime win. The No. 3 Spartans fell to No. 1 Colony in the title game, 50-47.
“He’s as good a leader I’ve ever coach and just his all-around game,” Hofman said. “He didn’t have any flaws. He’s just a solid competitor. If I had an all-star team, he’d probably be a starter for me.
“He’s very impressive. Nothing flashy, nothing showy. Just good, solid basketball player and a good athlete.”
Graves averaged 18.3 points in the playoffs, while senior Zach Feehan averaged 11.4 points and 14.6 rebounds in the postseason.
On the season, Graves averaged 17 points and six rebounds and broke the school record with three-pointers made with 116, shooting 45.5 percent from long range.
Feehan earned second-team honors after a record-breaking season in which he broke the program’s rebounding record previously held by Matt Faber. Feehan averaged 10 points and pulled down 420 rebounds (12.3 per game). The senior also blocked 56 shots.
“Zach is probably, literally, the most improved player I’ve ever coached in one year,” Hofman said. “He hardly played last year, so he got some confidence in the spring and really had as good of a rebounding year as anyone we’ve ever had. He reminds me of Matt Faber when we won the championship in 2011.”
Behind the duo, which were named Rio Hondo League Co-Players of the Year, the Spartans (27-7) clinched their sixth straight league title.
Behind goalkeeper and USC commit Carolyne Stern, the La Cañada girls’ water polo team stretched its season to a second consecutive quarterfinal match in the CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs, where they lost, 8-6, to eventual champion Santa Margarita.
Stern, who made 438 saves en route to her second straight first-team all-league nod, also helped La Cañada claim another Rio Hondo League title with an overall record of 21-8.
“She was another major factor in why we were so competitive in that Division II quarterfinal game against Santa Margarita,” La Cañada coach Robert Eccheverria said. “She made a lot of great saves one-on-one. She was a leader. She was projecting her leadership skills to the team from the goal and that was very impressive.”
La Cañada senior Genevieve Fraipont received All-CIF second-team recognition and Madison Solares was a third-team pick, a repeat of last season’s honors.
“You could pretty much put [Solares] anywhere in the pool and she would find a way to be successful,” said Eccheverria of Solares, who is a UC San Diego commit who scored 53 goals and tallied 51 assists and 38 steals. “She was someone that I counted on to either score penalty shots, make an assist or defend. She was valuable to our team and our success this year.”
Fraipont scored 61 goals and recorded 42 assists and 49 steals.
“She would always find a way to score,” Ecchevierra said. “Against really good teams, she would guard the opposing team’s best player. On the field, she was our best player. She was very unselfish.”