Versatile Tides remain unbeaten in South Sound League girls basketball play

Posted on December 27th, 2021 By:

The 2021-22 Gig Harbor girls basketball team boasts talented players who can score from long distance or take it to the hoop in a half-court game. The Tides tout a mix of younger stars and proven veterans who know how to win using their biggest strength — versatility. They are 4-1 and in first place in the South Sound 3A Conference.

Taylor Schwab gets smacked on the arm while going up for a shot against Olympia.

Taylor Schwab gets smacked on the arm while going up for a shot against Olympia. Photo courtesy of Melissa Schwab

Opposing coaches have been perplexed whether to concentrate on stopping sophomore sensation Taylor Schwab with her explosive crossover and drive, or junior Baylee Young with her sweet shooting stroke. Defending two first-team all-league guards and arguably one of the top backcourt tandems in the state is a difficult task. Meanwhile, foes have to contend with frontcourt players Riley Peschek and Tia Barry pulling down rebounds and being capable of dribbling coast to coast. Gig Harbor’s versatility presents matchup problems. Whatever strategy a defense employs, the Tides have the ability to counterattack it.

The Tides have started slowly in a few games and had to rally. Against crosstown rival Peninsula last week, they absorbed a huge early run only to remain poised and prevail. Peninsula sophomore Kaylia Heidelberg opened the game hitting shots like she was Kelsey Plum playing in the NCAA tournament. Five deep rainbow threes in the first half and a heave at the halftime buzzer from somewhere in North Texas was all net as the Seahawks mobbed her at halftime.

Baylee Young looks to pass against Olympia.

Baylee Young on the move against Olympia. Photo courtesy of Melissa Schwab

The confident Tides looked at them as if to say, “Nice shot, but the game isn’t over.” Gig Harbor made adjustments and came out of the locker room determined, Coach Mike Guinasso said. Schwab scored 21 points on a variety of quick, athletic drives and Pescheck took over down low, scoring 14 points. The well-prepared Seahawks, who scored easily and often in the first half, struggled to get a shot off down the stretch as the Tides mixed zone and man-to-man defenses that disrupted Peninsula’s offensive flow.

In the fourth quarter, Barry blocked a shot and grabbed crucial rebounds and guard Olivia Paul made good decisions and found open shooters. Peschek rumbled down the court to the hoop, daring someone to take a charge. Young snapped a long-distance dagger three from the corner. Schwab kept her foot on the gas and was clearly driving the bus. By the time the ride ended, the Lady Tides won 59-54 and were the ones left celebrating.

Riley Peschek slices for a shot between Peninsula's Kaylia Heidelberg (32) and Grace Richardson (24).

Riley Peschek slices between Peninsula defenders for a shot. Courtesy photo

Gig Harbor, 4-0 in league play, has won its other games much the same way, often getting contributions from all players on both sides of the court. The Tides did lose to 4A power Olympia, 61-50, last Tuesday in a game that was close at halftime despite Gig Harbor not having two starters due to illness. Guinasso feels his team is capable of making a run to the state tournament in March, with all five starters able to score in double digits. The first goal is to win a league title, with teams like North Thurston and the always-tough Seahawks proving to be worthy opponents.

Because of talented players like these, the Tides are feeling confident and optimistic:

Tia Barry is the unselfish senior leader. At 5-foot-8, she is a consistent scorer, rebounder, can block a shot and make the right pass. She averages about 10 points per game. “She does the little things that don’t always show up on the stat sheet, but when she is out due to foul trouble, I always think I’ve got to get Tia back out on the floor,” Guinasso said. She has smooth moves, can create shots and is capable of scoring 20 points with her silky style.

Tia Berry

Tia Berry Photo courtesy of Melissa Schwab

Olivia Paul is a 5-foot-7 guard who is a catch-and-shoot threat from the outside, a solid dribbler, who pressures hard on defense. She started the season out hot, scoring 13 points against Timberline. She is a much-needed third 3-point option should opponents double Schwab and Young. She’s a key component with her ability to facilitate scorers while staying aggressive.

Riley Peschek is a 5-foot-11 forward who provides a tough, durable presence in the post on defense, can hit a 15-foot jumper, spin for a bucket, grab a tough rebound or lead the break. Talk about versatility. She is scoring a solid 12 points and grabbing 9 rebounds a game, getting close to averaging a desired double-double. She will be counted on to score and to play physical defense against taller opponents after league play.

Taylor Schwab is a 5-foot-8 combo guard who was first-team all-South Puget Sound League as a freshman. She can do a little of everything offensively, evidenced by her 20-plus-point average. She can drive either way with a low, explosive crossover or shoot a rhythmic jumper from deep. She’s smart and not afraid of the spotlight. She is a score-first, willing passer who can get a bucket when you need it. Last week a WSU recruiter was in the gym to watch her. She will play college basketball one day.

Abbie Hunter works in the post.

Abbie Hunter works in the post against tight defense by Peninsula. Photo courtesy of Melissa Schwab

Baylee Young is a 5-foot-9 combo guard who was first-team all-South Puget Sound League as a sophomore last year. She is a competitor and  driven to succeed. She can score in bunches with a pure jump shot and routinely makes difficult shots look easy. She’s fast, athletic and has a nice floor game. She averages over 15 points and 3.5 steals a contest. She fires off the bench during introductions and plays the whole game with intensity. She has been counted on to produce since she was a freshman, and is also being watched by college scouts.

Guinasso couldn’t point to a clear-cut sixth player off the bench, so he gave two names. They have different games, but both are big parts of the team. Alex Ferrier is a 5-foot-7 sophomore sparkplug who worked hard last summer to improve. She has been given quality minutes, plays tough defense and has won the confidence of her coach by not turning the ball over in crucial situations.

Abbie Hunter is a 5-foot-10 sophomore forward who has also improved. She has a similar game to Peschek, can score down low, hit mid-range jump shots or play the guard position. She is gaining confidence as she gets experience. She has the size and strength to come up big on the defensive end in the postseason and is an important player for the Tides moving forward.

The squad is rounded out by dedicated, athletic reserves who can be counted on to fill in competently. They have a good mix of size and experience and are ready when their opportunities arise.


Dec. 8 — Gig Harbor 54, at Timberline 32

Dec. 10 — Gig Harbor 61, at Central Kitsap 52

Dec. 14 — at Gig Harbor 59, Peninsula 54

Dec. 17 — at Gig Harbor 58, Capital 46

Dec. 21 — at Olympia 61, Gig Harbor 50

Dec. 28-29 — Kings Christmas Tournament

Jan. 5 — at North Thurston, 7 p.m.

Jan. 7 — River Ridge, 7 p.m.

Jan. 12 — Yelm, 7 p.m.

Jan. 14 — Timberline, 7 p.m.

Jan. 15 — Roosevelt, 4 p.m.

Jan. 19 — Central Kitsap, 7 p.m.

Jan. 21 — at Peninsula, 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 26 — Capital, 7 p.m.

Jan. 28 — North Thurston, 7 p.m.

Feb. 1 — at River Ridge, 7 p.m.

Feb. 3 — at Yelm, 7 p.m.

Check local radio station KGHP 89.3 or 105.7 for radio broadcast dates and times.