Each year, with input from area coaches, The Olympian selects its All-Area girls basketball team.
This year, seven local schools are represented by players and coaches selected to the All-Area first and second teams.
The 12 spots, broken down by leagues, are 4A South Puget Sound League (two), 3A South Sound Conference (seven), 2A South Puget Sound League (one) and 2A Evergreen Conference (two).
All statistics listed include every game prior to the beginning of state tournaments. All portraits taken by staff photographer Joshua Bessex.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Guard, 6-0, senior
Before the 3A SSC MVP had his season cut short by a broken collarbone, he was stunning the South Sound with his wide range of ability. Mickelson — a two-time 2A EvCo MVP at Black Hills, and two-time Olympian All-Area first-teamer — averaged 14.3 points per game as Capital’s stud point guard. He added 8.5 assists, seven rebounds and four steals per game. He scored a season-high 39 points against Central Kitsap on Jan. 27, shattering a school record with 10 3-pointers.
What coach Brian Vandiver says: “His ability to feel the game — I may never see this again. You can’t coach it. You just have it or you don’t. He has a feel for the game that he knows offensively that it’s time to score. He knows who is open, when they’re open. He knows what pass to feed them. ... Then you add the defense in. He never gives them the same look twice in a row.”
COACH OF THE YEAR
Second season, 27-19 career record at Capital
Last year at this time, Capital’s season was long over. The Cougars finished 5-15 in the 3A Narrows League basement. This season with nearly identical personnel, Vandiver, the 3A SSC coach of the year, has Capital in the Tacoma Dome this week competing in the 3A state tournament. Talk about a turnaround. The Cougars are 22-4, and won the 3A SSC title — Capital hadn’t won a league title since 2008, and this is its first trip to the state tournament since 2009.
Guard, 6-1, senior
Bailey, the 2A EvCo co-MVP, finished his career at Centralia with 1,290 points. Lower than you thought? Well, he did that in just 55 games, posting a 23.5 points per game career average. He was the area’s leading scorer this year — 634 points, 26.4 per game — and paced the Tigers to the 2A state regionals. His season-high 42 points against Mark Morris on Feb. 14 broke school and district tournament records for single-game scoring. He finished the four-game tournament with a record 127 points.
What coach Kyle Donahue says: “He’s a leader out there. He’s the first kid in the gym every day, he’s the last kid out of the gym. Sometimes he’ll spend an extra half-hour shooting. He leads by example. It really makes him valuable.”
Forward, 6-3, junior
Christian was the only other player in the area apart from Bailey to reach the 600-point mark this season — he scored exactly 600 points, averaged 24 per game and led North Thurston to within one game of a 3A state regional berth. The 3A SSC first-teamer scored in double digits in all 24 games he played and put up 30 or more points nine times — including a season-high 38 against Issaquah on Dec. 2. He pulled down eight rebounds per game for the Rams.
What coach Tim Brown says: “Obviously scoring and rebounding — he did a fantastic job on both fronts this year. We relied on him every single game. The consistency he showed was amazing. ... We had a nice season. Without him we wouldn’t have even been close.”
Guard, 5-11, senior
Give him the ball with short time — he’ll beat the buzzer. He did it twice this season to lift the T-Birds to wins over Capital and crosstown rival Black Hills. The 2A EvCo co-MVP led Tumwater to a third consecutive league title averaging 19.1 points, 4.8 rebounds per game. Marty shot 54 percent from the floor and 49 percent from beyond the perimeter. He ripped of a season-high 33 points against Centralia on Jan. 6, and scored in double digits in all but one game.
What coach Thomas Rowswell says: “Brian’s work ethic separated him and allowed him to have such a tremendous year for us. ... He is as tough of a kid that I’ve coached, as far as just putting his head down and being able to get to the rim and finish around the rim. His work ethic and toughness, I thought, allowed us to have a great year.”
Forward, 6-5, senior
Springy, exhilarating to watch and can finish above the rim. Led River Ridge’s offense with 14.2 points per game and nearly averaged a double-double, hauling in 9.8 rebounds per game. The 2A SPSL MVP dazzled the crowd with a six-dunk performance against Orting on Jan. 13, and scored a season-high 32 points. River Ridge coach John Barbee says Skipper-Brown is a raw talent that will only get better, and a player opposing teams have to account for every time he steps on the floor.
What coach John Barbee says: “I think he’s one of the best, if not the most athletic kids in at least all of 2A — it’s between him and (Foss’) Roberto Gittens. ... I think he continued to get better throughout the year, and I think he’s still going to get better.”
Guard, 6-4, junior
Entertaining offers from five Division I schools, and still has one more year to play. Stevenson, a 3A SSC first-teamer, fueled a rivalry win over North Thurston on Dec. 16 with a school-record 45 points. The two-time Olympian All-Area first-team selection is one of the most relentless, competitive players in the South Sound — plus he can dunk, too. Stevenson’s 19.9 points per game have the Blazers in the Tacoma Dome for the first time since 2013.
What coach Allen Thomas says: “Erik is a versatile guard that can hurt you in a lot of ways, whether it’s rebounding the basketball, shooting it from the outside, attacking the rim or finding his teammates. I think he has an opportunity to be probably the best player to come out of this school if he continues to push and work at it. The sky is the limit for him.”
G Eli Morton, Timberline, 5-10, junior
G Chris Penner, Capital, 6-1, sophomore
G Casson Rouse, Olympia, 6-1, junior
F Hunter Sipe, Olympia, 6-3, senior
G Jeremy Spencer, North Thurston, 5-11, junior