Gateway: Sports

The top four from the Gig Harbor, Peninsula winter high school sports season

Southridge’s Mikael Failor grapples with Peninsula’s Isaac Casey during Mat Classic XXXI at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Wash., on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019.
Southridge’s Mikael Failor grapples with Peninsula’s Isaac Casey during Mat Classic XXXI at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Wash., on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019.

With the winter sports season officially finished with the Hardwood Classic state basketball tournament over the weekend at the Tacoma Dome, it’s time to look back on some of the most notable performances during the winter from the athletes at Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools.

With so many worthy and deserving choices, especially this winter, this was a difficult task. Here are my picks.

Best freshman: Billy Oates

The Bellarmine Prep student, who swims for Gig Harbor High, had a stellar freshman campaign, capped off with a Class 3A state title in the 50-yard freestyle at the state meet at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.

His time of 20.88 seconds ended up being the fastest time across all three classifications at the state meet and was an All-American consideration time. The time also put Oates into the WIAA’s all-time top-10 state 50 freestyle times for Class 3A. For any high school swimmer, this would be an incredible accomplishment, but it’s almost unheard of for a freshman to pull it off.

Best senior: Isaac Casey

The Peninsula High wrestler took second in the 160-pound weight class at the Class 3A state wrestling meet at the Tacoma Dome, falling to Southridge’s Mikael Failor in the final match. But it was a great tournament for Casey, who won four matches in the tournament to get to the championship match, including a semifinal win over Stanwood’s Riley Van Scoy. While Casey will ultimately leave Peninsula without a state title, he leaves as one of the school’s top wrestlers over the past four years and put together a dominant career.

Best athletes: Brynna Maxwell and Belle Frazier

Both Maxwell of Gig Harbor and Frazier of Peninsual will go down as two of the best girls high school basketball players the two schools have ever seen. Just imagine Gig Harbor coach Megan Murray and Peninsula coach Mike Schick having the impossible task of replacing them on the court next season.

Maxwell put together her best season yet, averaging 26.8 points per game, scoring 671 points, shooting 50 percent from the field and 43 percent from 3-point range and making 91 percent of her free-throw attempts. She also had her best rebounding season, averaging nine boards per game. She was named the Class 3A South Sound Conference Most Valuable Player.

Frazier, meanwhile, put together another great season, even with a lingering knee injury that slowed her down for the first half of the season. Frazier averaged 18.6 points per game, 9.8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2.7 steals for the Seahawks and helped the team advance to the Class 3A state tournament at the Tacoma Dome.

Best team: Peninsula girls basketball

Peninsula (18-6 overall, 13-1 South Sound 3A) won the Class 3A South Sound Conference title and took two out of three from crosstown rival Gig Harbor this season. Peninsula advanced to the Hardwood Classic state tournament at the Tacoma Dome.

But Peninsula was more than just Frazier this year, which was different from years past. Sophomore Linsey Lovrovich had a breakout season, averaging 14.5 points per game for the Seahawks, while sharp-shooting sophomore guard Piper Bauer was a steady presence for Peninsula, averaging 10.8 points.

The job done by Schick in his second year as coach has been impressive to watch, as he’s turned Peninsula around from a relative afterthought to an exciting, up-tempo squad that puts up plenty of points. Even with Frazier gone next year, look for the Seahawks to be a factor once again the South Sound Conference.

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.