The Gig Harbor High School girls basketball team has found its point guard of the future. But the Tides are also feeling quite comfortable living in the present at the position as well.
Sophomore Brynna Maxwell has been electric this season for the Tides, leading the team in scoring and positioning herself as an elite high school player for Gig Harbor for the next two-and-a-half seasons.
Maxwell, who came off the bench last season in a spark-plug-type role, was a safe lock for the starting lineup this season and has taken advantage of the opportunity, averaging 17.2 points per game for Gig Harbor, three steals, two assists and eight rebounds. She’s shooting 86 percent from the free throw line and 44 percent from the field as well.
Maxwell credits her increased efficiency to increased aggressiveness.
“I’ve been working on getting to the hoop a lot more this year,” she said. “In AAU, I was more of just a shooter.”
During her end-of-season evaluation last winter with coach Megan Murray, getting to the rim more was something that was discussed.
“Just using her length to get to the basket a little more,” Murray said. “Knowing defenses will play her a little tighter, that was just something she’d have to add to her game.”
Maxwell took the challenge to heart and worked hard to improve her game, like she’s always done.
“Her love and passion for basketball and her work ethic are hands down, top of the charts,” Murray said.
On top of that, Maxwell has a natural knack for scoring.
“Just her understanding of knowing how and when to score,” Murray said. “She just naturally has a great scoring ability, a great shot.”
And Maxwell is blossoming with confidence this season after adjusting to the high school game her freshman season.
“The game has really slowed down for me this year,” Maxwell said. “I’m doing a better job of finding open teammates and getting to the rim. I’m just trying to take advantage of what the defense is doing this year. If I’m open, then I’ll take it. But I can dish it to my teammates also.”
Playing in AAU has its advantages — namely, playing basketball outside of the high school season.
“I think she’s playing with a lot of confidence,” Murray said. “She’s got a lot of experience outside of the season playing a lot of high-level basketball. That’s one thing she brings, the amount of experience that she has.”
But the AAU game also has its disadvantages. Too often, the onus seems to be primarily on getting up and down the floor and scoring, and less on playing defense. That changed for Maxwell when she started playing at Gig Harbor High.
“In AAU, our coaches didn’t focus as much on defense,” Maxwell said. “So (Murray) has taught me a lot about defensive footwork and positioning.”
Defense isn’t just a talking point for Murray and the Tides. Gig Harbor works on something defensive every day in practice.
“She’s really had to concentrate on learning position, keeping quicker guards in front of her, using her length,” Murray said. “She’s had to learn that from scratch. She’s so cerebral with the game, so she has the ability to pick it up quickly.”
Gig Harbor dropped its latest game, over the holiday break, to Snohomish, 45-33. Gig Harbor now has three losses on the seasons — but all out of league, and all to quality teams in Kentlake, Lincoln and Snohomish.
Maxwell and Murray believe those losses will be good for the team’s growth.
“Those games will help us in the postseason, when we get to districts,” Maxwell said.
Murray concurred with her sophomore star.
“I think it helps a ton,” Murray said. “If our girls are able to go back and draw off that type of experience, playing higher caliber teams, it definitely helps us.”