The Chronicle’s 2019 All-Area Girls Basketball Team: MVP Schow Only Senior on All-Area Squad
Back for More: W.F. West, Rochester, Adna and Toledo Girls Eager to Prove It Next Year
By Jordan Nailon
After four years of diligently refining her craft Kaylee Schow succeeded in churning her skillset buttery smooth in the Stone City. As a result, the Tenino do-it-all hooper can add MVP of The Chronicle’s All-Area girls basketball team to her Grade-A resume.
Rounding out the rest of the team this year are Drea Brumfield and Annika Waring of W.F. West, Paige Winter of Rochester, Kal Schaplow of Toledo, and Payton Aselton of Adna. Barring any unforeseeable turn of events between now and this time next year there’s a good chance you could be reading most of those names again. That’s because Schow is the only senior in the bunch. Waring, Winter, Aselton and Schaplow are all juniors while Brumfield is only a freshman.
Of course, there’s a lot of wind sprints to be run and screens to be set between now and then, and the unpredictable is always a lingering force at play in the land of athletics. There’s perhaps no better example of that principle than the freak leg injury that W.F. West’s Erika Brumfield suffered during the first few minutes of the Bearcats’ first game of the season. That injury ended the season of the presumptive MVP for the area’s most successful team and changed the course of the Bearcats season before it really got started.
But we’ll get back to that later.
In basketball success comes at the three-way intersection of hard work, health, and the proverbial good bounce. This year Schow was able to Euro-step that rout to greater effect than anyone else in the area.
Standing all of 5’8” Schow is never the biggest player on the court but her impact on the game bore no relation to her size. As a four year varsity starter Schow was a de facto leader for the Beavers this year as they finished a game behind Montesano for second place in the 1A Evergreen League before bowing out at the hands of those same Bulldogs during the District tournament.
“I think she just brought the level of intensity up because she’s always working hard and I think the other players thrive off of that,” explained Tenino coach Brandi Thomas.
The team featured two sets of sisters, including Kaylee’s freshman sister, Ashley. Schow (the MVP version) believes that rarefied connectivity between players is something that undoubtedly helped to propel the Beavers through a backyard brawl of a league schedule and back into the playoffs.
“I think we all knew each other because we all grew up together,” she explained. “I think we just know each other’s personalities. If someone is getting frustrated we know to walk up to them and say, ‘You know you got this, just calm down.’ And we can read each other without even talking to each other just by reading body language and faces.”
A hulking stat line from Schow certainly helped to clear the way for those good vibes to flow. This season she averaged 20.8 points per game while snagging 8.5 rebounds per contest, including 3.5 offensive boards per night.
Schow began her prep career as an undersized center for Tenino before gradually working herself away from the basket. While she’s always been a scorer for the Beavers, this year she had an entire of arsenal of moves at her disposal to help put the ball in the hoop.
“Sophomore year I started becoming more of a guard and evolved more into an attacking player. Since then I’ve just been trying to get better at that,” Schow said. “I’d probably say I’m more of a small forward because if I’ve got a short girl guarding me I can go down into the post because I learned all of the post moves during my freshman year.”
Thomas, who is helping Schow with the recruitment process to find her a place to play college ball, agreed that her senior stalwart grew by leaps in and bounds in both her fundamentals and decision making process over the years.
“(Because of) other teams knowing about her each year she’s had to improve her game in finding different ways to score. One of the ways that I’ve watched her improve is on the pull up jumper. We always would tell her, ‘Don’t drive all the way into the trees!’” said Thomas.
Down in Toledo it was Kal Schaplow who played her way onto the All-Area team. A 5’10” junior, Schaplow helped to fill a variety of roles for her team this year as they came within one game of a trip to the regional round of the State tournament.
Schaplow said that her coach, Brian Layton, was very upfront about all that the team would need from her on a nightly basis if they wanted to contend this season.
“He wanted me to be a real leader for the girls and really encourage them and push them. That’s something that our team really gained a lot this year more than ever was our team chemistry and how close we are,” Schaplow said. “He wanted me to get everybody involved so we could keep the momentum going. Whether that means going in and scoring or driving it and dishing it to Stacie (Spahr) in the post. Just keeping things moving.”
Shaplow was successful in keeping things moving with a final stat line average of 19 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals, and one block per game. She also shot an efficient 40 percent from the field and 77 percent from the charity stripe.
Schaplow said she intends to go on to play basketball in college but she’s not sure where quite yet. Right now she’s just looking forward to one more season in Cheese Town to try and get her team over the hump and into the Sweet 16.
“I felt like we got everything that we could out of ourselves. We worked so hard all season and the girls wanted it really bad. I think that was one of the best seasons that Toledo girls sports have had in a long time. I mean, it hurt really bad to be one game away twice but at the same time we hadn’t been in that position for a long time,” Schaplow said.
Out Adna way there was another junior from the 2B ranks who managed to force her way onto the All-Area team with a stat line that’s about to burst at the seams. Payton Aselton, a 5’9” point guard, scored 14.1 points per game this season, with 8.3 rebounds, five assists, and 5.2 steals per contest to round out her effort.
Those stats included nine games where she finished with a double-double. Although she may have led her team in most categories this season, she never let her focus stray from helping her band of Pirates to be the best version of themselves.
“(I’m) just trying to be a leader and trying and making opportunities for other players. My main goal is driving and kicking out for other players to get shots. They also asked me to try to score more,” Aselton noted. “That was difficult for me. I mean, I’m okay at scoring but that was definitely something that I needed to work on was going straight to the basket and not shying away from it. Sometimes I’d pass it off because I think somebody else has a better shot but my coach has been working with me on just going and trusting myself.”
Aselton and company were able to place third in the Central 2B League before falling in the District playoffs. Best known for her exploits on the soccer pitch, Aselton is hopeful that her team was able to gain valuable experience this season that they will be able to utilize for a deeper playoff run in her final season on the hardwood.
“With this league you didn’t really know. Some teams were really good this year. They stepped up and changed and got a lot of freshman. That was hard because we didn’t know which teams were going to be stronger and which ones weren’t,” Aselton noted. “We knew that we weren’t the best shooting team but if we gave it all to getting the ball back and getting steals that we’d be okay by getting the ball back on defense.”
The rest of the All-Area team hails from teams in the Evergreen 2A Conference.
Out beyond the morning shade of the Grand Mound the Warriors were buoyed this year by the offensive output of Paige Winter. Standing a strong 6’0”, Winter was a force down on the block all season long as Rochester clawed their way to a fourth place finish in the brass knuckle tough EvCo before seeing their season end in the District playoffs.
“I think me and Lexi Jones both had to step up as leaders this year because we had a really good leader last year who left. Plus we had Emily Elkins and I felt like the three of us together really kept the team going and having a positive attitude,” explained Winter.
On top of that veteran leadership, Winter said that she saw a shift in the way the entire team embraced long odds and competition this season.
“This year when we played those (EvCo) teams we were just like ‘Gosh dang it we’re done with this!’ And they came out ready to play,” Winter noted. “Something that I think really helped was each of us was assigned a game and given a quote (to read). It got our heads in the game and we were really focused.”
That focus certainly worked for Winter as she averaged 17.2 points, eight rebounds, 1.7 steals, and 1.4 assists per game. She totaled 378 points for the season and tallied eight double-doubles.
When it comes to improving in preparation for her senior run on the court, Winter already knows what she wants to work on.
“I really want to start working on my defense next year because that’s what colleges look for,” Winter noted.
W.F. West is the final team to land personnel on the All-Area team. Having turned in the most successful season of any girls team in the area the Bearcats are also the only team with two players to represent their school.
Annika Waring, a 5’10” forward, is one player who impressed as much with her intangibles as her counting stats.
“At practice we know our role. Tom (Kelly) kind of tells us our role and we know who the shooters are, we know who our inside players are and we just kind of work with it,” said Waring. “My role I know is to run the floor, take the ball out, shoot the shots. Tom never yells at us about shooting too much so if we’re open we need to shoot.”
Those roles worked much as they were intended as W.F. West finished in a tie for first place in the EvCo and fell just one win short of bringing home a trophy from the State tournament in Yakima. Along the way Waring tallied 10.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game.
Although they fell just shy of their ultimate goal, Waring said she still chalks the season up as a success. That outlook is entirely understandable, especially when taking into the account the litany of injuries her team sustained, including that gut wrenching loss of Erika Brumfield.
“It was definitely something that was hard to overcome and so it was awesome when we overcame that. We knew we couldn’t do anything about it. We didn’t complain about it we just knew we had to keep on pushing so that’s what we did,” Waring said.
The other Bearcat to find her way onto the All-Area squad is all too familiar with the aftermath of the injury that cast a pall over the Mint City. That’s because Division 1 bound Erika Brumfield is her sister.
Drea Brumfield is a 6’1 freshman who was thrust into primetime under duress and still managed to thrive. Her contributions were so important to the Bearcats’ success that Waring was quick to shower her with praise.
“I think she definitely stepped up. Maybe at the beginning of the year as a freshman she was a little bit nervous but by the end of the year she was confident. She did some great things for us and I can’t wait to have her back next year,” Waring said.
For her part, Brumfield still seems to be a little shell shocked by her first campaign on the court at W.F. West. She credited her teammates for helping to keep her pointed in the right direction this season.
“They really helped me with my confidence a lot. I was super nervous at the beginning, like having to come into that Washougal game, my first varsity game going in for my sister who just blew her knee out. It was hard but if I missed a shot they just picked me up and kept me going. They were amazing,” Brumfield said. “Before Erika got hurt I was playing defense in practice and stuff but when Erika got hurt I just felt like that was an opportunity for me. Like, ya that sucks, but this is my time, I can do this, and I just kept getting more confidence.”
That confidence wound up making Brumfield the team’s leading scorer with a 12.5 points per game average. A self styled stretch-forward, she also grabbed 7.8 rebounds, dished 2.3 assists, snatched 2.1 steals, and swatted two blocks per contest.
Just as Waring was keen to tout the successes of her team’s freshman phenom, Drea Brumfield was just as quick to laud her sister for helping her navigate her first season of high school basketball.
“She supports me 100 percent of the time. She’s always encouraging me and from the bench she can see stuff that I need to change or that I can do better,” Drea Brumfield said, who couldn’t help harkening back to the days of sharpening her skills against her sister in the driveway. “We would go outside when we were younger and play 1-on-1 and get in fights and stuff… but (this year) we got along very well. We were just always supporting each other.”
The Chronicle’s 2019 All-Area Girls Basketball Team
Player Gr. Pos. Team PPG
Kaylee Schow (MVP)Sr. G Tenino 20.8
Kal Schaplow Jr. G Toledo 19
Payton Aselton Jr. G Adna 14.1
Paige Winter Jr. F Rochester 17.2
Drea Brumfield Fr. F W.F. West 12.5
Annika Waring Jr. G W.F. West 10.8