Each year, with input from area coaches, The News Tribune selects its All-Area girls basketball team.
This year, 11 local schools are represented of the more than 65 in the South Sound region with players and coaches selected to the All-Area first and second teams.
The 12 spots, broken down by leagues are 4A North Puget Sound League (three), 4A South Puget Sound League (two), 3A Pierce County League (three), 3A South Sound Conference (one), 2A SPSL (two) and 2A Evergreen Conference (one).
ALL-AREA FIRST TEAM
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Bethel High School
Guard, 5-9, junior
Bio: Brown entered the preps scene an obvious talent from the get-go. She was the 4A SPSL MVP as a freshman and again as a sophomore. In her first year in the 3A Pierce County League, Brown has led the Braves to their first trip to the Tacoma Dome since 2005, averaging 18.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.7 steals and 1.7 blocks per game as the primary ball handler. Only knock is that she’s too unselfish at times.
What coach John Ainslie says: “She is the ultimate teammate. She has all the skills in the world, but she’s also the glue to our team. She is an all-star, but she doesn’t act like it. … I’ll tell you what, though, she has the sweetest shot in the world.”
Favorite player: Russell Westbrook and LeBron James
Wilson High School
Guard, 5-10, senior
Bio: That was one fine career for the University of Portland-bound Matz. She was a member of four consecutive state tournament teams, became the first player in Wilson history (boy or girl) to score more than 1,647 career points and have a hand in more than 1,000 more points (506 assists) and this year she averaged 22.3 points, 4.2 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game. This was after suffering a season-ending ACL tear at the end of last year.
What coach Michelle Birge says: “The biggest thing for me was her leadership and her ability to speak confidence into her teammates and believe in them. And scoring was just natural for her. She can literally take over a game. We have a joke that it’s ‘Josie Time.’ ”
Favorite player: Stephen Curry
Gig Harbor High School
Guard, 5-11, sophomore
Bio: This sophomore is pretty super. Maxwell has solidified herself as the Tides’ point guard of the future with her sweet shot and the height to find teammates anywhere. And that length has also allowed her to attack the basket on smaller defenders. She’s averaging 18 points, eight rebounds and five steals per game for Gig Harbor, which is ranked No. 2 in the WIAA’s 3A RPI rankings and enters the Tacoma Dome for the first time since 2006.
What coach Megan Murray says: “Her love and passion for basketball and her work ethic are, hands down, top of the charts. … She’s got a lot of experience outside of the season playing a lot of high-level basketball.”
Favorite player: C.J. McCollum
Forward, 6-1, junior
Bio: MVP of the 4A Narrows last year. MVP of the 4A SPSL this year. What can’t the University of Arizona commit do? She had 25 rebounds in a winner-to-state victory against Beamer, and she’s scored at least 20 points in seven games. Smith has the Lions in the Tacoma Dome for the second time in her three years — starting on the Lions’ sixth-place team as a freshman. She’s averaging 16.2 points and 11.4 rebounds per game.
What coach Kevin Meines says: “She amazes me with the things she can do. She is a special player. What she has really grown at, she will gather the kids in the huddle and say, ‘We’ve got this.’ She sees the value in her teammates when others don’t see it.”
Favorite player: Isaiah Thomas
Auburn Riverside High School
Guard, 5-3, senior
Bio: Don’t let the big smile and small stature fool you. Williams is as competitive as they come. Last year she was the 3A SPSL MVP and this year earned MVP of the 4A NPSL Olympic averaging 18.8 points and 4.6 steals per game. Her game had been predicated on her ultra-quickness, but this year added a reliable 3-point shot to keep defenders honest. She’ll be playing in the Tacoma Dome for the first time in her four years this week.
What coach Christian Miller says: “Most competitive player I’ve ever coached, for sure. Z has always been fast and athletic, but the difference now is she has worked on her game so much that she can knock down 3s, she can hit the mid-range and she’s probably the best on-ball defender in the state.”
Favorite player: Christian Miller
Player of the year
White River High School
Forward, 6-2, senior
Bio: Bird is a three-time league MVP – twice in basketball, once in volleyball. Her four-year starting varsity hoops career has netted her a school-record 1,866 points and this season has been her best – averaging 23.1 points, 12.1 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game entering the state tournament, with season-high single-game point totals of 43 and 40 points. The biggest addition to the University of San Diego signee’s game has been her turnaround jumper.
What coach Chris Gibson says: “Last year, it was double teams. This year, it has been triple teams. I’ve had times watching film and I’ve stopped to look and there’s actually four people within four feet of her. That’s how much attention she gets.”
Favorite player: Sue Bird
Coach of the year
Bio: Meines has the Lions in the state tournament for the 11th time in his 14 seasons. Bellarmine won its fourth consecutive league title and eighth in the past 10 years (the other two years it shared the league title). Meines suffered a stroke while walking on campus last March, but was able to return to the Lions’ sideline and coach this young team — it starts one senior — to a 23-1 record entering state. Meines is 252-103 for his career.
Favorite player: Magic Johnson
ALL-AREA SECOND TEAM
Emma Duff, Black Hills, sr.
Alexius Foster, Franklin Pierce, sr.
Japhera McEachin, Todd Beamer, sr.
JaQuaya Miller, Kentridge, so.
Kondalia Montgomery, Lincoln, jr.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677