For Bears' all-time leading scorer, it's always been about wins, not points

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Alex Weber-Brader ends his career at Olympia with several school records - and an elusive state trophy

March 12, 2011 

Defense saves Bears when shooting touch goes cold

Olympia senior Alex Weber-Brader is introduced before Friday night's boys basketball game against Gig Harbor at Olympia High School on Jan. 7, 2011.

BY TONY OVERMAN — The Olympian

From the start, he's had a scorer's mentality, an uncanny knack for putting a basketball through a hoop 10 feet above the floor.

As a gangly sixth-grader, Alex Weber-Brader once scored 15 points in a game to help lead his AAU team to a tournament championship.

In his first varsity game at Olympia High School, he scored 27 points, leading the Bears to a win.

Need a basket? Weber-Brader was the solution. Whether it was a 3-pointer or a twisting layup, he was instant offense.

“He hit big shot after big shot for us,” Olympia coach Luke Salme said of Weber-Brader, who is now a 6-foot-5 senior and The Olympian’s all-area boys basketball player of the year.

“He’s definitely been the man for us,” Salme added. “He got us a lot of wins.”

For each of the past three seasons, this gregarious kid with the big smile and bigger game led Olympia in scoring, averaging 11.5 points per game as a sophomore, 20.7 as a junior and 21.7 as a senior.

He finished his high school career as Olympia’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder. He finished with 1,345 points, breaking Rob Marshall’s career scoring record of 1,244 set in 1979.

“Even when he was a sophomore, we knew he was going to be something special,” Salme said. “Honestly, he’s almost unguardable as a high school player.”

Put a big player on him, and Weber-Brader could dribble past him. Put a quicker, smaller player on him, and Weber-Brader – who shot 49 percent for his career – could post up and shoot over him.

“He’s the best player at Oly in a long time,” Salme said. “We’re going to miss him.”

Something unusual happened on Weber-Brader’s journey to setting Olympia’s scoring and rebounding career records. No one knew.

“He never said anything about it,” teammate Dominick Francks said. “I didn’t know until after he broke the record. He never made a big deal about it. He’s just a great guy.”

Even with his back-to-back 4A Narrows League MVP awards, his basketball scholarship to Seattle Pacific and his three straight years as the Bears’ go-to guy, Weber-Brader was never a get-me-the-ball type of player.

He was the selfless scorer. He had the game but not the attitude.

“He doesn’t have a big ego,” Salme said. “He doesn’t need to be the guy taking all the shots. He just wants to win. That’s what drives him.”

Olympia got those wins. The Bears finished 25-4 this season and placed fourth in the state, equaling the school record for victories in a season set by the 1997-98 team that placed second at state.

“I truly felt that the best player in the state tournament could have been Alex,” Salme said. “SPU is going to love having him.”

Weber-Brader wasn’t just a shooter. He was also a magnet for rebounds, averaging 10.7 per game this season. He set the school records for career rebounds (609) and rebounds for a season (309).

“He’s the whole package,” Marshall said after watching Weber-Brader play. “He can finish with both hands. He can handle the ball. He can pass it. He plays defense. He does it all.”

Going into the season, Weber-Brader’s goal was not to lead his team in scoring but to help get Olympia to state for the first time in 11 years.

“Our main goal was to get to the Tacoma Dome,” he said. “A lot of people didn’t think we could do it. But we thought we could.”

Like Weber-Brader will, Marshall played college basketball at Seattle Pacific. Marshall still owns that school’s record for career assists. And he has made a deal with Weber-Brader.

“I told him, fine you can break my scoring record at Olympia,” Marshall said. “But leave my assist record alone.”

In his last high school game, Weber-Brader scored 32 points, helping Olympia beat Kentridge, 77-67, for fourth place at state.

“Seattle Pacific got a steal,” Kentridge coach Dave Jamison said after the game. “He’s a great player. Our big guys couldn’t stop him. He’d drive right past them.”

Weber-Brader got his points and the win. It was a perfect finish to a record-breaking high school career.

Gail Wood: 360-754-5443

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