Belle Frazier and Brynna Maxwell first met each other on a basketball court in fourth grade, playing on the Northwest Magic AAU team, based out of Puyallup.
“She wore pig tails,” Brynna recalled of Frazier.
“She had these sports goggles,” Frazier said about Maxwell.
The pig tails are gone now for Frazier, and the goggles have been retired by Maxwell. But the basketball? That part lives on.
Maxwell and Frazier were stars on their respective teams a season ago as freshmen; Maxwell for the Gig Harbor Tides and Frazier for the Peninsula Seahawks. While they’re rivals now for their high school team, they’re still teammates together for the Northwest Magic.
They’re friends, too, but they’re competitive. They always have been.
“There was a mini-hoop at her house that we’d go at pretty hard,” Frazier said.
“We had some intense games of Bump,” Maxwell said.
A little too intense, sometimes.
One time we were playing 1 on 1, I poked her in the eye and she bled a lot.
Brynna Maxwell, Gig Harbor sophomore guard
“One time we were playing 1 on 1, I poked her in the eye and she bled a lot,” Maxwell said.
That competitive spirit still burns hot for the pair when they play against each other. Neither one wants to back down. At a 3-on-3 tournament at Gig Harbor High School a while back, onlookers were surprised at how chippy Frazier and Maxwell got guarding each other.
“One of them said, ‘When did basketball turn into rugby?’” Frazier recalled.
Gig Harbor and Peninsula faced off last season and the Tides got the better of the matchup, beating the Seahawks soundly. But with their respective teams, both Frazier and Maxwell were major contributors all season long. For the Tides, Maxwell averaged 11 points per game, five rebounds and two steals.
I learned how to stay calm and composed, remained collected as the games get tough. There’s a lot of pressure when you’re the point guard. You have to make sure you stay composed.
Belle Frazier, Peninsula sophomore guard
“I learned how to stay calm and composed, remained collected as the games get tough,” Frazier said. “There’s a lot of pressure when you’re the point guard. You have to make sure you stay composed.”
Both girls play point guard for their high school teams, and both have a serious love for the game. During the offseason, Frazier was helping out with a youth basketball camp at Peninsula. It was a camp being put on by the boys team, but Frazier wanted to be there anyway.
“I don’t really have anything better to do with my day,” Frazier said, with a laugh. “I just love being in the gym, helping little kids. When I was a younger girl going to those camps, I remember there were no older girls there helping out. I think it’s cool to be a role model for the younger girls.”
During the offseason, Frazier is shooting baskets in the Peninsula High School gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5:30 a.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, she’s leading open gym.
“She’s a gym rat,” said Peninsula coach Shane Patrick. “She has a high basketball IQ.”
That kind of work ethic is unique, to say the least, at the high school level.
“She’s pretty much by herself (during 5:30 a.m. shooting),” Patrick said. “She’s been the only one to break the ice so far.”
Maxwell’s work ethic is largely the same, according to Gig Harbor coach Megan Murray.
“She’s always in the gym early, staying late after practice,” Murray said. “The kind of players that put in that extra time in effort, it shows in their game.”
Maxwell’s basketball addiction runs so deep that during the summer, her parents have to remind her to leave the gym and go outside once in a while. Maxwell complies — sort of.
“There’s always an outdoor court I can play on,” she said.