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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Eagles soar to first district title since 1996, Bellarmine up first at state
For only the second time in the long history of Federal Way High School girls basketball, the Eagles can call themselves district champions.
Third-ranked Federal Way separated from Mount Rainier Monday night in the title game of the West Central/Southwest Bi-District Tournament at the ShoWare Center in Kent to win 66-56. The last, and only other time the Eagles won the district title was 1996. Federal Way went on to win the state championship that year.
The Eagles (23-2) outscored Mount Rainier 19-8 during the third quarter to open up a close game. Federal Way trailed by three after the first quarter, 15-12, before tying the game at halftime, 26-26.
The Eagles used their considerable depth against the Rams. Talia Walton led Federal Way with 17 points and Tanji Ajeto and Brittany Barrington both tallied 12 points each. In total, the Eagles had six players score at least six points Monday.
Walton, who has already signed a letter of intent to play at the University of Washington, scored 10 of her 17 points during the pivotal third quarter. The 6-foot-2 forward also had nine rebounds and five blocked shots. Barrington also finished with 11 rebounds.
Mount Rainier, who finished third in the South Puget Sound League North Division, came into the championship game red hot. The Rams beat the last two state champions during the district tournament in Auburn Riverside and Kentwood.
Mount Rainier (21-4) had won nine games in a row entering Monday night's game. The Rams got a total of 30 points from freshmen twins Jordan (16 points) and Brittany McPhee (14).
The Eagles will see a familiar foe in the first round of the Class 4A State Tournament Friday night. Federal Way will take on the Bellarmine Prep Lions at 8 p.m. at Rogers High School. The winner of the game advances to the Tacoma Dome for the eight-team 2011 Hardwood Classic, March 3-5.
The Eagles beat then top-ranked Bellarmine in the semifinals of the district tournament last week, 70-54. Federal Way spent most of the year as the top-ranked team in the Washington before losing to Auburn Riverside in the South Puget Sound League title game. That's when Bellarmine took over the No. 1 spot.
The loser of the Federal Way/Bellarmine game will face the winner of a first-round game between South Kitsap and Skyline at 1 p.m. at Puyallup High School on Saturday, Feb. 26. The winner advances to Tacoma and the loser is eliminated.