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4A STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS: Federal Way finds a way into the semifinals, beats Mount Rainier, 60-53
The Federal Way Eagles have a simple message written on the backs of their warmup shirts, “Finish.”
That’s just what the tournament favorites were forced to do Thursday night in their quarterfinal game at the Class 4A State Girls Basketball Tournament inside the Tacoma Dome against the Mount Rainier Rams.
The Rams led for most of the first three quarters before Federal Way used a 13-2 run in the fourth to upend the pesky Rams, 60-53.
The victory moved the Eagles (25-2) into the semifinals of the state tournament for the second time in the last three years. Federal Way will take on Chiawana at 7:15 p.m. Friday night (see fedwaymirror.com for details) with a spot into the championship on the line. Chiawana knocked the Eagles into the loser's bracket at last year's state tournament with an opening-round win. The Class 4A title game will be played at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 5, and will be televised on Fox Sports Northwest.
Mount Rainier (22-6) starts only one senior and have zero state tournament experience. That’s much different than the battle-tested Eagles, who are making their third-straight trip to the Tacoma Dome.
Federal Way needed all of its tournament experience Thursday night against the Rams, who finished third in the South Puget Sound League North Division because it was the Eagles who seemed to be nervous early in the contest.
Mount Rainier jumped out to a quick 16-11 lead after the opening quarter and extended the advantage to as many as 10 points late in the first half led by Brittany McPhee. The freshman tallied a game-high 27 points, including 14 in the first half.
Federal Way, however, got back into the game by tallying the final six points of the half to cut the Ram lead to just four heading into the locker room, 32-28.
Mount Rainier finished 12 for 15 from the free-throw line during the first two quarters and outrebounded the Eagles, 18-6.
But Mount Rainier wasn’t about to go away in the third quarter. The Rams ran out to a 42-34 lead midway through period. But that’s when Federal Way’s senior guard, Brittany Barrington, took over.
Barrington tallied seven points during an 11-0 run to give Federal Way its first lead of the game, 45-42, late in the quarter. She finished with a game-high 17 points for Federal Way and also added four steals.
McPhee hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to tie the game at 45-45. But the fourth quarter was all Eagles. Federal Way outscored Mount Rainier, 15-8, during the final eight minutes.
The Eagles’ junior point guard, Darah Huertas-Vining, finished with 15 points, University of Washington-bound Talia Walton added nine points and six rebounds and Dyesha Belhumeur chipped in eight points.
Thursday’s win over Mount Rainier was the second time the Eagles have beaten the Rams in the past three games. Federal Way downed the Rams, 66-56, to win the West Central/Southwest District championship.