Each year, with input from area coaches, The News Tribune selects its All-Area girls basketball team.
This year, eight local schools are represented with players and coaches selected to the first and second teams.
The 12 spots, broken down by leagues are 4A North Puget Sound League (three), 4A South Puget Sound League (one), 3A Pierce County League (four), 3A South Sound Conference (three), 1A Emerald City (one).
Peninsula High School
Forward, 6-foot, junior
Bio: She remembers gushing over JaQuori McLaughlin, when he was on his way to becoming the boys program’s all-time leading scorer before heading to Oregon State (now UC Santa Barbara). Now she’s the one surrounded by kids after games. The 3A South Sound Conference MVP averaged 21.4 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.7 steals per game in leading the Seahawks to their first state appearance since before she was born in 1989. Had three 20-20 games (at least 20 points and 20 rebounds) and two triple-doubles.
What coach Mike Schick says: “Belle has all of the attributes you look for in a complete player. Great shot, ability to score in a variety of ways, fantastic court vision, length and anticipation on defense and her overall willingness to do whatever it takes to win.”
Kentridge High School
Post, 6-foot-2, sophomore
Bio: She plays with the coordination, strength and IQ of a sophomore in college. But ask her about her birth certificate and she swears she really is just a high school sophomore, one who averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game this season after helping lead Kentridge to the school’s first state title starting as a freshman. She catches just about whatever there is in the paint and is strong enough to finish through double teams.
What coach Bob Sandall says: “Jordyn’s creativity on offense is unique. She has the ability to anticipate openings in a defense and can finish even the most difficult shots.”
Gig Harbor High School
Guard, 6-foot, junior
Bio: She’s Gig Harbor’s all-time leading scorer (1,297 career points) and it’s only fitting that she’d lead the school to its first state title, saving her best games for the brightest lights. She scored 31 points in the championship game over Garfield and earned the 3A state tournament MVP. Two-time TNT All-Area selection average 21.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.6 steals thanks to her smooth ball-handling.
What coach Megan Murray says: “All in, 100 percent committed and always will put in the extra time and work. Always trying to get better and push herself to another level. One of the most competitive kids I have coached.”
Kentridge High School
Post, 6-4, junior
Bio: Not your average 6-4 post. A deft passer, she can surprise you with her ball handling and she can even comfortably step out and shoot from long range. It’s what made her so tough around the free-throw line working the Chargers’ high-low game, even if it doesn’t always light up a box score. Averaged 9.7 points, 8.9 rebounds, 3.4 steals per game and is considered the No. 48 overall recruit in the nation in the 2019 class.
What coach Bob Sandall says: “JaQuaya is the ultimate team player. Her game is dedicated to making those around her better. Her ability to rebound, score, assist and defend are a unique combination for a post.”
Lincoln High School
Guard, 5-foot-8, senior
Bio: No one played a bigger role on what had been the toughest team in Pierce County entering the state tournament. She flourished moving to point guard, averaging 10 points, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game as the Pierce County League MVP – which her WNBA sister, Alex Montgomery, also accomplished at Lincoln. But Alex says her sister is far more athletic than she was. But the greatest attribute Kondalia (AKA Neenee) had? Lock down defense. No one in the South Sound was better.
What coach Jamila Jones says: “She brought a different level of work ethic and expectations to this program. She checked in with her hard hat and lunch pail every day.”
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Forward, 6-foot-1, senior
Bio: One of the most relentless motors you’ll find on a basketball court. It was those days spent outside, crying after playing one-on-one and working out with former Curtis point guard Dom Robinson that she said fueled her into the player she is now, heading to the University of Arizona on full scholarship. The three-time league MVP averaged 16.4 points, 11.1 rebounds and 3.6 steals per game this season while taking Bellarmine to the Tacoma Dome for the third time in her four years before ankle injury sabotaged her, forcing her to miss the state tournament.
What coach Kim West says: “I really see her playing in the WNBA and overseas, and that’s all going to be up to her. She has an iron will. You can’t stop her. She has an inner drive that you can’t teach.”
COACH OF THE YEAR
Lincoln High School
Bio: Since he arrived at Lincoln in 2006, the girls basketball program has soared to heights it hasn’t seen in about three decades. Jones guided the Abes to their second district title in the past three seasons and a 24-3 overall record with a relentless defense. The state tournament games in the Tacoma Dome didn’t go as they expected, especially with how well No. 1-ranked Lincoln had been playing before getting there, but it was still the Abes’ fifth consecutive state trip after having just one state appearance from 1988-2013.
Tianna Brown, Bethel, sr.
12.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists
Aniston Denckla, Kentlake, sr.
11.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.7 assists
Esmeralda Morales, Bethel, fr.
16.3 points, 3.4 steals, 3.3 assists
Julianna Walker, Annie Wright, fr.
35.2 points, 9.3 steals, 5.9 rebounds
Maddie Willett, Gig Harbor, sr.
15.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677