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2018 All-Area Girls Basketball: Bearcat-and-Tiger Crew Piled Up Wins, Accolades

The Chronicle’s 2018 All-Area Girls Basketball Team. Front Row: W.F. West’s Julia Johnson (left) and Kiara Steen. Second Row: Napavine’s Melissa Lee (left) and Mollie Olson. Back Center: W.F. West’s Erika Brumfield.

By Aaron VanTuyl

This year’s All-Area Girls Basketball squad has quite the resume.
Four of the five members won league MVP awards this year, and the quintet has a combined 15 all-league selections. All five members of the team have played for a state basketball title, and they’ve piled up a total of 41 wins in state tournament games.
It should be no surprise, then, that all five players come from the only two Lewis County teams to advance past the regional round of the playoffs.
Kiara Steen, Julia Johnson and Erika Brumfield represent the state champion W.F. West Bearcats, while longtime duo Mollie Olson and Melissa Lee represent Napavine on The Chronicle’s 2018 All-Area Girls Basketball Team.
Here’s more on each of the five selections.

Mollie Olson
Resume: 2018 Central 2B League co-MVP; two-time C2BL All-League first-team pick
Stats: 17.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 3.1 steals, 1.3 blocks per game
Napavine’s Mollie Olson started all four years for the Tigers, but cemented herself as one of the best 2B players in the state this season. She teamed up with classmate Melissa Lee to average a combined 38.7 points a game — which made up 67 percent of the Tigers’ offense this season.
Olson directed the offense and came up big in key games, notably scoring 17 points despite playing with bronchitis in a regional matchup with Colfax and notching 18 against Ilwaco in the district finals.
“She’s amazing at basketball,” Lee said of her longtime running mate. “She’s very unselfish, and she really led the team well this year. I thought just her encouraging others to do their best was a good contribution to the team.”

Melissa Lee
Resume: 2018 Central 2B League co-MVP; two-time C2BL All-League first-team pick
Stats: 20.9 ppg, 6.9 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, 4.7 steals, 3.7 assists per game
Napavine’s Melissa Lee always had a knack for finishing, and her state tournament performance was a great way to cap a prep career. The senior scored 104 points in four games, and 73 in three double-elimination state games — breaking a record (72) held by Okanogan’s Jill Townsend (now playing for Gonzaga) and Wahkiakum’s Peyton Souvenir (now playing for Lewis-Clark State).
“She catches my passes, which is pretty handy, because they’re usually awful,” Olson joked. “She does a really good job of finishing, and she really steps up when we need someone to play defense — and gets a lot of tips, and rebounds, and steals.”
Lee and Olson were both All-League honorable mentions as freshmen — and then both landed on the All-League first-team as sophomores and juniors, and split the MVP award this season. They’ve been synonymous with the Tiger girls team for a full three seasons, and played in Spokane all four years.
“I gave her mom a big hug after our last game,” Olson said. “And I just started bawling, more than I already was.”
They might not be finished, though; their planning a few campus tours together in the coming weeks, and haven’t closed the door on keeping the duo together for another four years at the college level.

Kiara Steen
Resume: 2017 All-League honorable mention; 2018 EvCo co-MVP
Stats: 12.7 points, 4 assists, 2.6 rebounds, 2.6 steals per game
Beyond her stat line, W.F. West senior Kiara Steen’s attitude was a big factor in the Bearcats’ state championship season. The veteran point guard ran the offense and provided grit on the defensive end as W.F. West went undefeated over the final 16 games of its season.
“She has been an absolute beast this year. She’s such a great leader, on and off the court, for us,” teammate Erika Brumfield said. “She’s so intense on defense, especially up top — she just messes with people’s brains.”
Whether it was outside shooting, ballhandling, leadership or defense, Steen brought it to the court in her senior campaign — alongside fellow senior guard Julia Johnson, the only two seniors who were on the roster when the Bearcats played for a state title back in 2015.
“We had a lot of fun,” Johnson said. “It was a great way to end our careers together.”

Julia Johnson
Resume: 2016 All-League honorable mention; 2017 All-League first team; 2018 EvCo co-MVP
Stats: 11.3 points (56% shooting), 2.8 steals, 2.8 rebounds a game
Julia Johnson had what may have been the most memorable moment of her prep career just one game before the state finals. Locked in a tight game with East Valley (Yakima), point guard Kiara Steen took off on a 2-on-1 fastbreak with Johnson filling a wing and hit her classmate for what turned out to be the game-winning bucket with just seconds left in an eventual 40-38 win.
“Julia is always there, especially in the semifinals this year — she was getting steals up top and made the winning basket for us,” teammate Erika Brumfield said. “Right when you need her to succeed, she does.”
She was a huge part of the Bearcats’ full-court press, playing up top in the throttling zone.
“Julia is a defensive specialist. She’s amazing as a defender,” Steen said. “She’s always there to hit the 3, too.”

Erika Brumfield
Resume: 2017 All-League second team; 2018 All-League first team
Stats: 13 points (51% shooting), 9.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2 steals, 1.4 blocks per game
On a team that thrived on turnovers and transition buckets, someone had to do the dirty work.
That’s where Erika Brumfield stood out.
Brumfield, a 6-foot-3 junior forward, was an athletic nightmare for opponents, leading the Bearcats in scoring and rebounding and providing hustle plays night in and night out.
“She’s an amazing player,” Bearcat point guard Kiara Steen said. “She’s so hard working, and wants to win every game she goes into. She hustles really hard and will give everything she’s got.”

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