Gig Harbor High senior Maddie Willett and junior Brynna Maxwell have received plenty of well-deserved attention since they’ve been on the high school’s basketball team. Without question, they’re the stars of the team and arguably the best two players the girls basketball program has ever produced at the school.
But a team is more than two players, and if Gig Harbor wants to make a deep run into the state tournament, other players will need to step up. One player who has recently emerged for the Tides is junior guard Sydney Langworthy, who could be this group’s X-factor.
For Langworthy, the defense has always been there. She’s constantly up in opponents’ faces and applying pressure. She’s the type of defender players generally hate to go up against.
“She’s the best defender on our team,” Maxwell said. “She locks down the other team’s best player every night, day in and day out.”
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How would Gig Harbor coach Megan Murray describe Langworthy’s defense?
“She’s a defensive pest,” Murray said.
It’s an apt description for the 5-foot-5 guard. But while the defense has always been there, the offense, in the past, was hit-or-miss. This year, Langworthy has improved her shooting tremendously from behind the arc. Langworthy is averaging 7.8 points per game and is the third leading scorer behind Maxwell (20.7) and Willett (14.1).
“My teammates have been really pushing me to have confidence in myself, have confidence in my shot and something just clicked and all the sudden we just trusted in each other more, passed the ball around more, worked it more and find open shots for everyone,” Langworthy said.
She worked relentlessly in the summer on shooting 3-pointers. With Maxwell and Willett’s ability to get into the lane, Langworthy has no shortage of open looks from the perimeter once they kick the ball back out.
“Last year, I just wasn’t that confident shooting from three,” Langworthy said. “This year, I worked all offseason to get more confidence in my shot and then just came out strong. I think I just realized with Maddie and Brynna’s good ability to attack the basket, the kickout is open a lot when the defense collapses. So I just tried to work on shooting outside the perimeter to get the open shots.”
For Murray, having a third option on the offensive end is a key piece to the puzzle.
“She has really come on the second half of the season,” Murray said. “She’s really picked up her offensive game. It helps to have someone else who can also contribute on the offensive end. It makes us tougher to guard all around instead of the focus being on Brynna and Maddie all the time. It gets the defense to relax off Brynna and Maddie a little bit. Then it opens up scoring for them, as well, when you have another threat. … And we have other kids that contribute as well, getting 2, 4, 6 points a game.”
For Maxwell, having another option on the offensive end has been a bonus. Langworthy’s game received a ringing endorsement from the team’s top player.
“She has improved so much,” Maxwell said. “She came in on another level this year. I think it’s going in every time she shoots it. Last year, she wasn’t as confident. This year, she knows that we need her. She has really stepped up and it’s huge for us. It adds another dimension to our team.”