Mid-Columbia Conference basketball won’t be the same without a Hodgins in the midst.
Chiawana’s Braydey Hodgins will graduate this spring, ending the long run of the Hodgins sisters that started with Hayley (2007-11) and Delaney (2009-13).
“The MCC will miss the Hodgins girls,” Kamiakin coach Lane Schumacher said, “but when it comes time to tip off, it will be nice to not have to prepare for them.”
Braydey Hodgins, a 5-foot-7 guard who led the Riverhawks to a 14-0 record in the MCC and averaged a conference-best 27.1 points per game, was named the Herald’s All-Area Player of the Year. She also averaged 8.9 rebounds, 3.8 steals and 3.4 blocks per game.
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“I think most importantly, my teammates made this season a lot of fun,” Hodgins said. “We weren’t always close, but our senior year we figured stuff out, and that helped. Defenses did focus on me, but we were able to spread the offense out, and we had success with that.”
Hodgins also was the MCC MVP and defensive player of the year.
“Braydey took her game to another level this season,” Riverhawks coach Steve Davis said. “I have never had a senior step up the way she did this year. Her confidence and competitiveness were off the charts this season. She had a little old-school Jordan in her this year, and she let the other teams know it.”
While Davis cherished Hodgins’ play for Chiawana, other coaches knew they were in for a long night when the Riverhawks popped up on the schedule.
“She is hands down the best player in the league,” Schumacher said. “ She more than proved that. She made (Chiawana) go. She is the heart and soul of their team. Your whole game plan is geared around stopping her, and we still couldn’t. We tried a lot of defenses. We may have slowed her down, but we couldn’t stop her.”
Hodgins, who has signed to play basketball at Boise State, passed on playing at EWU — where Hayley and Delaney are star players — to forge her own path.
“I like my sisters, and it would be awesome to play with Delaney, but I decided to do my own thing,” Hodgins said. “I am more independent. The system at Boise fit me better, and I bonded with the players and coaches right off the bat. My AAU colors were orange and blue my whole life. It fit perfectly.”
Broncos coach Gordy Presnell is happy to add her to the fold.
“Braydey comes from a basketball family,” Presnell said in news release after signing Hodgins. “Braydey will bring a lot to this program. She plays with a high basketball IQ, has the ability to score, is extremely tough and competitive on the floor.”
Joining Hodgins are the first team are Kamiakin freshmen Oumou Toure and Alexa Hazel, Walla Walla senior Kate Hogan and Touchet senior Cierra Jo McKeown.
Toure led the Braves in scoring with an average of 16.1 points per game. She also had 7.3 rebounds and three steals a game as she helped lead the young Braves to a fifth-place finish at the Class 3A state tournament.
Hazel averaged 12.6 points while also handing out 3.9 assists and grabbing 4.3 rebounds.
The 6-1 Hogan was one of the most dominant inside players in the league. She averaged 13.5 points a game for the Blue Devils along with 8.6 rebounds and three blocks. She has signed to play for Eastern Oregon University.
McKeown, who has signed to play at Walla Walla Community College, was one of the top scorers in the state among all classifications with 25.9 points per game. She also averaged 8.1 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 5.7 steals a game for the Indians, who lost in the regional round of state.
“Most of those girls I have played with or against for a long time,” Hodgins said. “It was fun. It was always a challenge.”
Schumacher was named Coach of the Year.
Hodgins has been shooting baskets since she was 4 or 5, when her parents Karen and Mike would lower the hoops at their clinics for their youngest daughter.
Basketball runs in the Hodgins family. Karen (nee Murray) was a star for the Pasco Bulldogs and later for the University of Washington before playing professionally in Europe. Mike has coached at various levels, including his daughters’ AAU teams.
All the Hodgins girls have played for Steve Davis, either at Pasco or Chiawana.
“Scoring 30 in one game in high school is amazing,” Davis said. “Braydey almost averaged that this season. She scored more than 30 a handful of times and twice scored more than 40. And that’s with everyone in the gym knowing she has the ball and is going to try and score. Amazing player, leader, teammate, student, and person. Gonna miss her.”
The feeling is mutual.
“We got along really well,” Hodgins said of Davis. “His practices were hard and he expected a lot out of us. He helped me become a leader, be vocal and let me take control at times.”
College life will start early for Hodgins. Basketball workouts begin July 5, so she decided to enroll in summer school to get a head start on her education. She would like to major in criminal justice/law enforcement.
“It will be hard to leave home, but I am really good friends with a couple of girls on the team, and one of the assistants (Sunny Smallwood) has run camps here. She will be like a second mom. Riley Lupfer (Lewis & Clark) will be my roommate. I will be comfortable with the people I’m around.”
Schumacher took a very young team and turned it into a contender by the end of the season.
“We had our summer league and summer basketball, and I saw a lot of potential, but you don’t know how that will correlate into playing varsity basketball,” Schumacher said. “They kept growing as a team and believing in themselves. It was a fun year.”
Starting three freshmen and two juniors, the Braves went 7-7 in league during the regular season, but as the season evolved into the playoffs, they stepped up their game.
They beat Mt. Spokane to claim the No. 1 seed to state regionals, where they beat Columbia River 51-35.
The Tacoma Dome was next, where Kamiakin won its opening game of the 3A state tournament, beating Edmonds-Woodway 56-54. They would go on to finish fifth.
“They have a lot of ability, but they don’t rely on ability alone. They put in a lot of hard work to grow that ability,” Schumacher said. “They had an outstanding year. I look forward to watching them grow the next three years. We’d like to go back (to Tacoma) and try it again. There are no guarantees by any means, but it would be nice to do it again. It is the biggest stage high school athletes can compete at. I know they enjoyed the experience. I hope we will be hungry to make a repeat return.”
Tri-City Herald All-Area Girls Basketball Team
Coach: Lane Schumacher, Kamiakin. MVP: Braydey Hodgins, sr., Chiawana; Kate Hogan, sr., Walla Walla; Cierra Jo McKeown, sr., Touchet; Oumou Toure, fr., Kamiakin; Alexa Hazel, fr., Kamiakin.
Kassin Hopkins, sr., Connell; Gia Sorn, sr., Richland; Jayln Norwood, sr., Kennewick; Bella Gutierrez, so., Pasco; Jansen Edmiston, sr., Hermiston.
Best of the rest
Kamri von Oelhoffen, jr., Richland; Jalayne Martinez, sr., Pasco; Shyler Sullivan, sr., Southridge; Mickala Trappett, sr., Richland; Sara Ramirez, sr., Hermiston.