Jazzlynn Brewster was the family member who went away but never really left.
Brewster was born and raised in Lacey, attended North Thurston Public Schools and was accustomed to the River Ridge girls basketball program since her days as a ball girl while a student at nearby Nisqually Middle School. Those days, the Hawks were in the midst of being a Class 2A dynasty. The players in the program ahead of her were her role models.
That’s why it was so difficult for Brewster when her parents made the choice to have their daughter attend Tacoma’s Bellarmine Prep for high school. That also meant breaking ties with her future high school teammates on the Hawks Hoops AAU team.
“It was really hard, I was a little upset,” Brewster said.
At Bellarmine, she thrived as a student and as a two-year varsity basketball player. She eventually earned a spot in the starting lineup as a shooting guard her sophomore season after a freshman campaign cut short after one game because of a season-ending anterior cruciate ligament tear in her left knee.
Through circumstances beyond her control, the decision was made this year for her to enroll at River Ridge, her home high school. That meant reuniting with old classmates and teammates and playing for a program she rooted for while growing up.
“It was like coming back home,” Brewster said.
Brewster, a 5-foot-6 combination guard, has already made a big impact for the Hawks. The transition didn’t take long after she spent a summer playing with the Seattle Rotary Lady Style select travel team. Her first open gym with her new high school team was in August, and she fit right in. Already, through five games of her junior season, Brewster has made a quick-and-easy transition into River Ridge’s up-tempo offense.
“It’s a lot to live up to,” Brewster said. “It’s a big deal to be back, and it feels great.”
A combination guard by trade, Brewster has seen playing time running the offense as the point guard, but coach Jackie Robinson said he hopes to move her off the ball as the season progresses to give his junior guard more options to score. That could come tonight in the Hawks’ 2A Evergreen Conference showdown with Capital in a co-ed doubleheader starting at 5:45 p.m. at Capital High School. So far, Brewster has had three double-digit scoring games, including a season-best 16 in a 46-36 non-league win over Renton.
“She’s pretty intelligent to the game of basketball,” Robinson said. “She can play any one of the positions. She can do whatever to be successful.”
GIRLS BASKETBALL PREVIEW CAPSULES
League-by-league outlooks and capsules for 4A and 3A Narrows League, 2A Evergreen Conference, 1A Southwest Washington Evergreen Division and B schools.
4A Narrows League
(2011-12 record in parentheses)
1. Bellarmine Prep (17-5)5. South Kitsap (17-6)
2. Yelm (13-8)*6. Gig Harbor (7-13)
3. Olympia (10-15)7. Stadium (5-15)
4. Central Kitsap (17-6)
* — In Class 3A
G Sarah Snodgrass5-9so.Olympia
Plays beyond her years and will lead a youthful but experienced and well-balanced Bears team
G Sydney Swofford5-9jr.Bellarmine Prep
In biggest of games, she seems to shine at both ends of the court – a reliable leader
FCarly Hoisington5-10sr.Central Kitsap
One thing the Cougars can rely on – nightly double-double performances
Strong inside player with cat-like reflexes who makes it tough for opposing teams to contain her
CClaire Martin6-3so.Bellarmine Prep
The Lions expect big things from this first-time starter
Fastbreaks: If there’s a team that can push defending 4A Narrows League champion Bellarmine Prep out of the title seat, it’s 4A newcomer Yelm. The Tornados have a balance of strong guard play, with McKenzie Devore taking over the point, and inside power with Anushka Maldonado on the low block. Maldonado, an NCAA Division I prospect, missed half her junior season, but returned in time to lead Yelm into the playoffs. Even though the Lions are without guard Jazzlynn Brewster, who transferred to River Ridge, they still have enough pieces to grab the league title, behind 6-foot-3 center Claire Martin, a first-year starter, Ionna Prince and Sydney Swofford. Olympia doesn’t have a go-to superstar, but rather a balanced offense with a different player stepping up every night. The Bears are young – the starting lineup is all underclassmen – and the long-awaited debut of Faith Cebula has arrived. The 6-0 sophomore post, who can also light it up from outside, missed her entire freshman season after she suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Sophomore guard Jona Spiller has been out recently with a stress fracture in her foot.
3A Narrows League
1. Wilson (20-4)5. North Thurston (17-6)*
2. Timberline (15-9)6. Foss (2-16)
3. Lincoln (5-14)7. Shelton (1-19)#
4. Mount Tahoma (10-9)
* — In Class 2A
# — In Class 4A
G Bethany Montgomery5-8sr.Wilson
Eastern Washington signee shot 33 percent from 3-point range as a junior
G Kiera Allen5-4sr.Timberline
She leads the Blazers’ up-tempo offense and can rack up steals
G Kaysha Fox5-5sr.Wilson
Well-balanced player who ranks second on the team in rebounding in spite of her size
G/F Precious Hunkin5-8sr.Lincoln
She is again expected to be the go-to player for the Abes
F Tia Briggs6-1sr.Wilson
Reigning league MVP determined to help Rams get their second state berth in three years
Fastbreaks: Can anyone stop Wilson, a senior-laden team poised for a deep run at the Tacoma Dome? If any team can challenge Wilson for the top spot in the 3A Narrows, it could be Timberline. Blazers coach Zandrea Edenstrom said her team is poised to make a school-record run. The Blazers don’t have much size up front, but make up for it with their speed, especially in the backcourt. Kiera Allen had five games with four or more steals a season ago. Wilson welcomes back four starters, including reigning MVP Tia Briggs, from its team that advanced to regionals. The group of seniors went 1-19 as freshmen. After one of its best seasons in recent memory, North Thurston is back up at Class 3A. The Rams lost the bulk of their scoring from their 2A playoff team, but they have a senior-laden team with Haley Harn, the coach’s daughter, and Katherine Welcome. Junior post Jordyn Colborn will see her first action after missing all of her sophomore season with a knee injury. Shelton could struggle in the win column in its first year back in Class 3A. The Highclimbers have scored more than 25 points once in their first five games. Shelton, North Thurston and Mount Tahoma all are newcomers to 3A this season.
2A Evergreen Conference
1. W.F. West (22-5)5. Centralia (1-19)
2. Black Hills (12-10)6. Tumwater (12-11)
3. River Ridge (17-8)7. Capital (3-17) *
4. Aberdeen (6-14)
*— In Class 3A
G Mo Donovan5-7 sr. Aberdeen
One of the purest shooters in the EvCo, Donovan can light it up from anywhere on the floor
G Jazzlynn Brewster5-6jr.River Ridge
Bellarmine Prep transfer and Lacey native will provide an instant impact for the Hawks
F Hope Mortensen5-11sr.Black Hills
The Wolves’ senior has a soft touch around the rim and a knack for rebounding – she had 16 boards in the team’s opener
F Julie Spencer5-11so.W.F. West
Just might be the league’s best-kept secret in first season on varsity; she scored a career-high 25 points in EvCo opener
C Jamika Parker6-3sr.W.F. West
This NCAA Division I prospect is a blocking machine. She already owns the school’s all-time lead in block shots
Fastbreaks: The Bearcats’ size up front with Jamika Parker, Olivia Erskine, Katie Hawkins and Julie Spencer makes them an overwhelming favorite to repeat as EvCo champions and one of the top teams in the state. Tenino transfer Nike McClure, a WSU commit, has been ruled ineligible to play varsity for W.F. West this season and will suit up on the JV team. Two of the league’s four first-year coaches are at the two Tumwater schools. Tanya Greenfield at Black Hills has a wealth of size with Hope Mortensen, Nicole Nurmi (5-11) and newcomer Shayla Smothers (6-1), but her team has shown it can run the floor and put up points. Through six games, the Wolves have turned some heads by averaging 60.8 points per game. The word “new” describes Tumwater with a new coaching staff – led by former Evergreen AD Dave Weber – and a new starting lineup. While the T-Birds don’t have any returning starters, they could sneak into the playoffs with the backcourt of Haley Carlson and Ashley Christoffer, and Lacye Groening in the paint. Jazzlynn Brewster, a combo guard who will see playing time at point guard, has already made a big impact for River Ridge. She is a Bellarmine Prep transfer, but a Lacey native who grew up in the Hawks’ system. Expect a breakout junior season from post Rebecca Stevenson, who had 21 points in the team’s season opener. Speaking of the Hawks, former River Ridge coach Tom Kelly is Centralia’s new coach, so expect the Tigers to have the kind of run-and-gun offense he had for two years in Lacey. Already, the Tigers have surpassed their one-win total from a season ago. Aberdeen could make some noise with Mo Donovan and Emily Fisher, but foul trouble could jeopardize the team’s success because it lacks depth. Fresh into the league is Capital with fresh team chemistry. At 6-foot-1, Spencer Pettit, a first-year starter as a junior, has scored in double figures in three of the teams’ first five games. Coach Colleen Wells said Pettit has “improved a ton since last year.”
1A Southwest Washington Evergreen Division
1. Elma (16-5)5. Montesano (9-14)
2. Rochester (5-14)6. Forks (2-16)
3. Hoquiam (8-13)7. Tenino (18-6)
4. Rainier (13-12)
G Keeli Demers5-5so.Rochester
Already an experienced point guard as a sophomore, she can pass and score (10.5 ppg in 2011-12)
G Brooke Goldsmith5-6jr.Elma
Fresh off a league MVP season in soccer, Goldsmith will put her speed into use on the hardwood
G Allisha Leischner5-4jr.Rochester
The league’s top returning scorer (15.4 ppg) is a handful to try to slow down
W Kelsey Eygabroad5-7sr.Rainier
She can show her versatility by scoring down low or from outside
W Chelsy Stewart5-9sr.Hoquiam
An all-around-type player who can play any position for coach Chad Allen
Fastbreaks: With the departure of Onalaska, which dropped to Class 2B, a new champion will be crowned in the Evergreen Division. And this could be Rochester’s season to end its bottom-of-the-standings slump. Just three years ago, Rochester went winless, but coach A.J. Easley’s bunch could battle Elma for the top spot in the standings. Four starters return, with Keeli Demers and Allisha Leischner providing the bulk of the scoring. The Warriors are already off to a 5-2 start. Rainier doesn’t have much size, but it wins with defense. In a non-league win over Mossyrock, the Mountaineers held their opponent to three second-half points. Senior wing Kelsey Eygabroad can score points inside and out and can fill up a stat sheet – she had 24 points, six rebounds, seven assists and seven steals in Rainier’s league opener Tuesday. Riley Mortlock and Kelli Brown lead an in-your-face pressure defense. It looks to be a rebuilding season for the Beavers in Tenino with zero starters returning, but they feature the league’s tallest player in 6-foot-2 Taylor Tibbetts. Last season’s leading scorer, rebounder and shot blocker, Nike McClure, transferred to W.F. West. Speed and strong defense is what will lead Elma, which will try to make the transition to a more up-tempo team after the departure of center Carly Meister, last season’s league MVP who is now playing at Southern Oregon.
Northwest Christian Navigators
Coach: Rick Thomas (first season)
2011-12: 10-13 overall; advanced to 2B District IV tournament
Key players: F Allison Sowers, sr.; G/F Hailey Bredeson, sr.; F Emily Van Marter, jr.
Outlook: No shortage of talent and athleticism with the Navigators for first-year coach Rick Thomas, also a tennis coach at the school. Already at 4-2 overall, NWC ranks second in the league in points per game (40) and should make a push for one of the top spots in the Pacific 2B League.
Mary M. Knight Owls
Coach: Lance Valley (13th season)
2011-12: 11-10 overall; advanced to 1B regionals
Key players: F Hannah Frost, jr.; F Carlie Adsero, jr.; G Miranda Sowle, so.; G Jaycee Valley, fr.
Outlook: It’s likely the 1B Pacific Coast League crown will come down to the Owls and Taholah once again. Frost is one of the top returning players in the league after averaging eight points and nine rebounds a game. Tiffany Gerou is the team’s tallest player at 5-10.Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org theolympian.com/southsoundsports email@example.com