After practice concluded on Thursday night, one day before Friday’s big Class 3A South Sound Conference rematch with Timberline, Gig Harbor junior Brynna Maxwell wanted to hang around the gym a bit longer.
Her coach, Megan Murray, noticed, and realized Maxwell probably would have been there all night, getting up shots the night before Gig Harbor looked to avenge its only league loss of the season against the Blazers.
So Murray sent her home.
“I told her to go home and rest, not stay long,” Murray said. “She needed to rest. But that’s just who she is. I appreciate that about her. She’s an ultimate competitor. She definitely wanted to get this win.”
So Maxwell went to Plan B. If she couldn’t shoot all night in the gym, she was going to find a hoop somewhere.
“I have a mini Nerf hoop in my room, so I was shooting around on that,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell, clearly, was antsy in the week leading up to the game. Timberline beat Gig Harbor on the Tides’ home court on Jan. 3, 43-40. Determined not to let the Blazers earn the sweep over Gig Harbor, Maxwell came out and scored the team’s first 11 points, guiding Gig Harbor to an 11-3 lead.
While Timberline made it interesting on a couple occasions, Gig Harbor (14-4 overall, 11-1 SSC 3A) held onto the early lead and came out with a 62-46 road win, all but locking up the SSC 3A title.
“It felt so good,” Maxwell said. “We had to stew in that loss for about a month. We used it as motivation to get back at them.”
Boy, did they ever. Maxwell led the way with 23 points. Senior Maddie Willett scored 17 and junior guard Sydney Langworthy added 13 points to bury Timberline (12-6, 9-3).
Maxwell scored 18 of her 23 points in the first half.
“Whatever it takes to win,” she said. “I was just really mad about that first game. It was a must-win game. I just wanted to come out and show them who was the better team.”
The fact that Timberline’s Kiara Brooks and Rayanna Dyas are teammates on Maxwell’s AAU team added a bit of extra fuel to the fire, also — not that she needed it.
“It’s tough when you lose because they text you and it’s just nonstop trash talk for the next month,” Maxwell said. “It’s really fun to play against them. We’ve been playing together since fourth grade. It’s really fun, you getting bragging rights the rest of the year. We’re really close friends.”
Timberline was paced by Brooks’ team-high 14 points. Keshara Romain added 11 for the Blazers, while Mia Harriott chipped in 10.
Timberline made it interesting in the third quarter, when Dyas hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to one, with Gig Harbor leading 34-33. But the Tides responded, going on a 9-1 run to finish the third quarter.
“We tried to really focus on staying poised on offense, especially when they threw their really good press at us,” said Gig Harbor guard Sydney Langworthy, who scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half, including two big 3-pointers. “We tried to just stay controlled, work the ball around and get the best shot.”
Breaking Timberline’s press and generating better looks at the basket was a big emphasis for the Tides, this time around.
“Our offense was a lot stronger,” Langworthy said. “We kind of knew their key players. Lots of credit to them because they have some really good shooters. We focused on them during practices. We focused on shutting them down.”
Barring a total meltdown, Gig Harbor will be the league champion, with two games remaining on the schedule against 4-8 Yelm and 2-10 Capital.
“Obviously, we want to build on this and finish strong,” Murray said. “At Yelm, that’s always tough. And then senior night, we want to go out with a big win against Capital. I’m a one game at a time coach. I don’t believe it till I see it. I’ll be proud of the girls if we do it. But I’m in no way there right now.”
Gig Harbor: Maxwell 23, Willett 17, Langworthy 13, Liberty 5, Edwards 3, Stewart 1.
Timberline: Brooks 14, Romain 11, Harriott 10, Dyas 5, Huynh 4, Williams 1, Borchardt 1.