There was a point in the second half when Gig Harbor sophomore Brynna Maxwell couldn’t miss.
Making shot after shot, Maxwell nearly willed the Tides to victory against a hyper-aggressive Kamiakin team, forcing overtime before the Braves pulled away with a 73-69 win in the regional Class 3A state girls basketball game at Puyallup High Saturday afternoon.
Maxwell poured in 30 points for the Tides, including six 3-pointers, and even though Gig Harbor lost, Maxwell is sure to remember this one for the rest of her life.
“She’s a die-hard,” Gig Harbor coach Megan Murray said of her star sophomore. “She’s ready to go all the time, and obviously she hit some huge shots for us to get us back in the ball game and keep us there. She’s good enough to be able to do that.”
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It was perhaps the finest game of Maxwell’s young high school career, in a big game on a big stage. Her hot shooting stirred the electric crowd in the second half.
“My teammates found me,” Maxwell said. “It was a great atmosphere to play in. But in the end, it didn’t matter. It’s still a loss.”
Mawell was aided by junior forward Maddie Willett’s 21 points. While Maxwell started a bit slow, Willett single-handedly kept the Tides in the game during parts of the first half.
The problem for Gig Harbor? Maxwell wasn’t even the game’s leading scorer. That honor belonged to Kamiakin sophomore sensation Oumou Toure, who tallied 33 points, worked relentlessly in the paint snagging rebounds and getting second-chance points and protecting the rim on defense.
“She’s very athletic and strong,” Murray said. “A lot of her stuff came on second-chance opportunities. We just missed out on getting an early box out on her. She’s a fighter — she’ll keep going after the ball. Obviously, that showed tonight.”
Kamiakin’s (23-1) full-court press gave Gig Harbor (20-4) fits throughout the game, forcing several Gig Harbor turnovers in critical moments.
“We practiced it a lot in practice,” Maxwell said. “I think we just got a little rattled at first. We started breaking it a little bit in the second half. We definitely have to handle pressure better and stay focused on that. Just finding the open person and staying composed.”
With the win, Kamiakin earns a first-round bye in the Class 3A state tournament in the Tacoma Dome. Kamiakin will play Thursday, March 2 at 2 p.m. against an undetermined opponent. Gig Harbor is still alive and also will play in the Tacoma Dome. Gig Harbor will play the winner of Mt. Spokane and Lynwood on Wednesday, March 1 at 10:30 a.m.
Gig Harbor coach Megan Murray said the loss should be a learning moment for her team.
“It’s good for us,” she said. “I think it puts us back in check. We’re one of the top teams and if we continue playing like this, this is the way it’s going to be, just battling. Obviously, everyone in state deserves to be here. It’s good for us to learn from and know where mistakes were made. To me, they’re easy fixes. It’s mental mistakes and focus.”
Kentlake 39, Camas 38: Falcons coach Galen Hillburn joked after this back-and-forth game that senior Jada Leonard “forgot to bring my water today.”
That would have been the only thing she mishandled in the Falcons’ close victory at Rogers High School.
Leonard was everywhere, and was locked on Camas’ Haley Hanson in the final seconds, not allowing a shot as Kentlake (23-4) escaped.
Gabby Bruno missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw with 13.8 seconds remaining for the Falcons.
Camas called timeout, and inbounded from near its own bench with 4.4 seconds to go.
The ball came to Emma Jones, who handed off to Hanson outside the 3-point line. She was met by Leonard, who just wouldn’t allow a game-winning attempt to go up.
“I know this, so many possessions we kept alive – and won – with the heart my kids fought with,” Hillburn said. “That is what it comes down to this time of year.”
The biggest lead of the game was early – 9-2 by the Falcons. But they would not take their final lead until there was 60 seconds remaining on two free throws by Aniston Denckla – who led all scorers with 15 points.
Glacier Peak 63, Bellarmine Prep 53: Bellarmine Prep trailed Glacier Peak by 10 at the end of the first quarter in Saturday’s 4A state regional game at Jackson High School in Mill Creek. It proved to be a deficit they could never fully make up.
The Lions lost 63-53, meaning they will play a loser-out game on Wednesday at the Tacoma Dome with a berth in the state quarterfinals on the line. With the win, Glacier Peak gets a bye on Wednesday and will play in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
The Grizzlies’ defense held Bellarmine Prep leading scorer Shalyse Smith to just three points in the first half. Smith finished the game with 17 points, most of which came in the fourth quarter, but the Lions were never able to trim the deficit to less than four.
Glacier Peak was led by the combined 48 points of seniors Paisley Johnson and Samantha Fatkin. Johnson finished with 29 and Fatkin had 19.
Oakesdale 69, Evergreen Lutheran 22: The Oaks offense was too much for the Eagles.
But Evergreen Lutheran still advances to Spokane Arena for the 1B state tournament. It will play Neah Bay at 10:30 .m. Wednesday.
Staff contributed to this report
NO. 2 KAMIAKIN
NO. 8 GIG HARBOR
Kamiakin: Toure 33, Hazel 19, Brown 11, Larsen 6, Scherbarth 2, Williams 2.
Gig Harbor: Maxwell 30, Willett 21, Emery 11, Shields 7.