Gateway: Sports

Legacy cemented: Gig Harbor’s Maxwell wraps up remarkable high school basketball career

Gig Harbor’s Brynna Maxwell gets ready on defense in the first quarter. Peninsula played Gig Harbor in a basketball game at Peninsula High School in Purdy, Wash., on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019.
Gig Harbor’s Brynna Maxwell gets ready on defense in the first quarter. Peninsula played Gig Harbor in a basketball game at Peninsula High School in Purdy, Wash., on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019.

To say Brynna Maxwell had a good basketball career at Gig Harbor High School would be a massive understatement.

Maxwell played in the final game of her high school career, in a Class 3A state tournament regional round loss to Edmonds-Woodway, in which she scored 31 points.

She leaves the school with nearly every school record to her name, including career points (1,968), points in a season (671 in 2019) and single-game high (48 on Feb. 13 against Hudson’s Bay).

Maxwell also leaves Gig Harbor with a ring, having won the 2018 Class 3A state championship with the Tides, in which she was named the Class 3A state player of the year. During the 2018 state tournament, Maxwell also set a handful of modern-era state records, including total points (83), average (27.7), and was tied for fields goals made (28) with Kamiakin’s Oumou Tooure. In the state championship game against Garfield, Maxwell scored 31 points in the win.

Maxwell had her most productive season of her career in her senior year. She averaged 26.8 points per game, shot 50 percent from the field, 43 percent from 3-point range and made 91 percent of her free-throw attempts. She also had her best rebounding season, averaging 9 boards per game.

“I’m beyond proud of that kid,” said Megan Murray, who coached Maxwell all four years at Gig Harbor High. “She gives so much to the game and the game gives back to her. I’m super proud of everything she’s done. She’s left her mark here and deserves everything she’s earned.”

Maxwell, who recently signed her National Letter of Intent to play basketball at the University of Utah, said it’s been fun to help the school earn a reputation in basketball circles.

“I wouldn’t want to be a part of any other program, coached by any other coach,” Maxwell said. “It’s been a huge blessing. No one knew about Gig Harbor. No one respected us. It’s been fun to put Gig Harbor on the map.”

With Maddie Willett graduated in 2018 and currently starring as a freshman for the Cal Poly women’s basketball team, Maxwell had to carry the scoring load almost exclusively this year. She was up for the challenge.

“I just focused on attacking all the time, not taking plays off on defense or offense,” Maxwell said. “If I can score, I was going to try to score every time down the court to help my team.”

Maxwell said she’ll miss the little things the most: Laughing with teammates, betting on half-court shots, watching film, bus rides, etc.

“Just the whole experience,” she said. “Little stuff you’re never going to get back.”

While Gig Harbor failed to advance to the Tacoma Dome this year for the Hardwood Classic, Maxwell leaves having captured a state title.

“Putting the banner up, that was just huge,” Maxwell said. “To be a part of that was really special. Just all the memories I made in that year, putting Gig Harbor on that map.”

Maxwell had no clue she was closing in on 2,000 career points. To her, none of the records seemed to matter much over the last four years. She just wanted to play basketball and win games.

“It was the last thing I’m worried about,” Maxwell said about the records. “Looking back on it, even more than winning state, it’s all the memories I’ve made with my team, all the fun we’ve had together. If I could back and change anything, I wouldn’t. It was the best four years of my life.”

Jon Manley covers high school sports for The Peninsula Gateway and The News Tribune. A McClatchy President’s Award winner, Manley has covered the Gig Harbor sports scene since 2013. Born and raised in Tacoma.