Maybe Gig Harbor High School girls basketball coach Megan Murray should just cancel practices for the remainder of the postseason.
Recent snow and inclement weather forced the cancellation of the last week or so of Gig Harbor’s practices, meaning the Tides went into Wednesday night’s West Central III/Southwest bi-district matchup against visiting Hudson’s Bay a bit cold.
But all that pent up energy proved useful, especially for Gig Harbor senior and Utah signee Brynna Maxwell, who poured in a staggering 48 points, a new single-game record at Gig Harbor High. And the Tides beat the Eagles, 65-48, to secure a spot in the Class 3A state tournament.
After the record-breaking performance, Maxwell deflected credit to her teammates.
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“Honestly, it sounds really cliche, but it’s because of my teammates and their passes,” Maxwell said. “Abby Emery, she was getting every single rebound, making the right decisions. Tate McReynolds was making great passes. Meghan (Edwards) and Sydney (Langworthy) played great defense and got some good steals. Our team played great.”
Gig Harbor coach Megan Murray is probably running out of things to say about her star senior these days, after four years of watching her continue to elevate her performances.
“We needed that tonight,” Murray said. “I just told the girls to keep fighting. She’s a kid who knows how to find her shot and get to the basket. She hit some shots that really sparked some run. That really helped. Some of that comes from our pressure from Meghan and Sydney, too.”
Gig Harbor trailed at half, 32-27. Hudson’s Bay freshman guard Aniyah Hampton, who finished with a team-high 21 points, was a handful for the Tides, penetrating the middle of the key and knocking down mid range shots.
So Gig Harbor switched almost exclusively to a 2-3 zone in the third quarter, clogging the middle of the key and focusing on blocking out and getting rebounds. Gig Harbor’s guards, Langworthy and Edwards, were disruptive at the top of the zone, while junior Abby Emery provided some needed physicality in the post on both ends.
“We got into the zone to really just lock down the rebounds and slow down their 3-point shooters,” Emery said. “It was important for us to get control of the rebounds, and a lot of just picking up the momentum and the energy of the game.”
The shift paid dividends for Gig Harbor, which outscored Hudson’s Bay 19-6 in the third quarter. In the second half, the Tides outscored the Eagles 38-16.
“We had to keep our energy up, come out on a different level (in the second half),” Maxwell said. “We were kind of playing down to their level. We came out, Sydney and Meghan were great up top on our zone. They shut them down.”
Gig Harbor’s team defense has turned into a key strength for the Tides and has gotten stronger as the season has gone on.
“We know how to tweak our zone, depending on what offense they’re running,” Murray said. “The girls are really good at that, just being able to talk and locate and know who shooters are and the strength of what their offense is. We adjusted well to that and were able to get some good stops off it.”
And now, one season after winning the Class 3A state title, Gig Harbor is headed back to the state tournament, even after losing four-year starter Maddie Willett to graduation last spring.
“It’s great to be back, to defend our title,” Emery said. “We’ve been working hard all season and we’re ready for this.”