If Brynna Maxwell keeps playing like this, she might just take the Gig Harbor Tides all the way to a state championship.
Maxwell poured in 28 points in Gig Harbor’s 57-52 quarterfinal win over Bethel on Thursday night on 10-of-19 shooting, including the game-sealing free throws with 23 seconds to play.
Up three and with momentum having shifted Bethel’s way, there’s no one Gig Harbor coach Megan Murray would have rather seen at the free-throw line than Maxwell.
“I had 110 percent confidence,” Murray said. “I knew she’d step up and knock them down. And she’s just as confident. I knew as soon as she was going to the line that this game was ours.”
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Bethel beat Gig Harbor just two weeks prior in the district tournament, and Maxwell was held in check with seven points. Not this time around.
The junior was a nightmare for the Braves’ defense on Thursday.
“We didn’t play very good defense,” said Bethel coach John Ainslie. “When we got down to it where we could do it, the kids usually don’t make mistakes, and they made some mistakes tonight. We let them in. We just didn’t have a good game today. We knew we had to stop (Maxwell) and we didn’t do it.”
Maxwell wanted to do whatever she could to will her team to the win.
“I just wanted to do anything I could to win that game,” Maxwell said. “If it was scoring, it was scoring. If it was passing, it was passing. Passing to Kendall (Liberty), she hit a couple threes that really meant a lot to us. (Sydney Langworthy) hit a three that sealed it. It was a team effort.”
If Maxwell keeps playing like she did tonight, watch out.
“She’s capable of playing that way,” Murray said. “Obviously, we hope that continues. She’s someone that doesn’t get fazed by missing a couple shots. She’s a shooter, so she’s going to continue to shoot.”
Bethel mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t quite enough. Senior Tianna Brown paced the Braves with 17 points. Freshman Esmeralda Morales added 13, while sophomore Tiarra Brown scored 12.
“The girls have heart,” Ainslie said. “They just wanted to go for it, so we had to do that. We came back, we just did it a little too late.”
Gig Harbor was led by Maxwell’s 27 points, while senior Maddie Willett added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
In the district loss to Bethel two weeks ago, Gig Harbor struggled with Bethel’s full-court pressure. But the Braves came out of the press by the second quarter this time around, as Gig Harbor stayed more composed than last time.
“We didn’t know they were going to pressure the first time we played them,” Maxwell said. “But now we’ve watched more film. We just were more composed this game. I was just proud of my team.”
Gig Harbor faces West Seattle in the Class 3A state semifinals Friday (March 2) at 9 p.m. in the Tacoma Dome.
“It feels so good right now, I can’t describe the feeling,” Maxwell said. “We’re in the final four. It means so much. We just have to play composed, have that same on-court awareness and mental toughness that we had tonight and I think we’ll be OK.”
Bethel: Tianna Brown 17, Morales 13, Tiarra Brown 12, Miller 8, Wagoner 2.
Gig Harbor: Maxwell 28, Willett 14, Liberty 6, Langworthy 4, Neil 4, Stewart 2.