STATE GIRLS BASKETBALL: Federal Way bounced after tough losses to Skyview, Woodinville | Slideshow
By CASEY OLSON
Federal Way Mirror Sports editor
March 9, 2012 · Updated 2:56 PM
The Tacoma Dome has become a second home for the Federal Way girls basketball program. For the fourth year in a row, the Eagles are at the Class 4A State Tournament.
Federal Way's run in Tacoma didn't last as long as they wanted it to. The Eagles lost their first two games Thursday and Friday at the double-elimination tournament, including a heart-breaker to the Skyview Storm in their opener.
Federal Way's run started Thursday afternoon with the loss to Skyview from Vancouver, 55-54.
Skyview (24-3) senior guard Stephanie McDonagh connected on a 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds left to erase a two-point Eagle lead and send the Storm into the semifinals.
The Eagles (22-6) followed up the improbable loss to the Storm with a 73-46 loss to the Woodinville Falcons Friday morning.
The McDonagh dagger Thursday ended an impressive comeback by Federal Way. The loss also dashed the hopes of nine seniors on the Eagles' roster of winning a state title. Federal Way finished second a year ago and third in 2009.
Against Skyview, the Eagles were led all game by senior Raven Benton. The 5-foot-10 wing finished with 18 points and eight rebounds. Benton was also 8 for 8 from the free-throw line, including a pair with 52.2 second remaining to give Federal Way it's first lead since the first half, 51-50.
Point guard Darah Huertas-Vining finished with 13 points and senior Dyesha Belhumeur chipped in 12 for the Eagles.
After not looking for her shot most of the game, Huertas-Vining was also huge down the stretch for the Eagles. The senior, who came in averaging 16 points a game, hit three free throws in the last 25 seconds to push Federal Way's lead to four, 54-50.
But a pair of Katie Swanson free throws and the McDonagh shot ended the Eagles quest for a second-straight trip to the state title game. Federal lost to Lewis & Clark a season ago.
Skyview's Brooke Bowen finished with 20 points and six rebounds and Swanson had 15 points, six rebounds and four assists.
After a slow start, the Eagles got going in the second quarter. The Storm rolled out to a 17-12 lead midway through the second, but Federal Way fought back to take a 25-22 lead at halftime. The Eagles extended the lead to 30-22 with 4:37 left in the third quarter.
But the Storm fought back with a 14-0 run to take their first lead since early in the game, 36-30, at the end of the third quarter.
The Eagles, however, just kept chipping away at the Storm during the final eight minutes. A Huertas-Vining 3-pointer with 1:12 left cut the Skyview lead to one, 50-49, setting up the late-game heroics.
Friday morning against Woodinville, Federal Way came out a little lackluster following the heart-wrenching loss to Skyview.
Things actually didn't start out bad for the Eagles. The two teams played a back-and-forth first quarter with Woodinville leading 19-16 after the opening eight minutes.
But the second quarter was a different story. The Falcons, led by 6-foot-1 Ali Forde, went on a 17-3 run during the first six and a half minutes of the quarter to take a commanding 35-19 lead.
Federal Way was never able to get back in the game. Forde finished the first half with 14 points and six rebounds. On the game, she had 21 points, 12 rebounds, seven blocked shots, two steals and three assists.
The Eagles did come back a little bit to start the second quarter thanks to Benton and Huertas-Vining. The pair scored nine-straight points to start the quarter to pull Federal Way to within 14 points, 48-34, with 2:02 left in the third. But that was as close as they would get.
Benton led the way for the Eagles with 12 points and seven rebounds and Huertas-Vining chipped in 11 points and three assists.
Federal Way shot just 34 percent for the game and were 4 for 23 from behind the 3-point line. Woodinville finished at 49 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Eagles, 47-36.
The Eagles reached the Tacoma Dome and the quarterfinal game with Skyview by beating the seventh-ranked Stanwood Spartans, 54-43, on Feb. 25 in the regional round of state at Auburn High School.
Federal Way played suffocating defense against the Spartans, despite having a decided height disadvantage. The Eagles held Stanwood (23-3) to just 22.6 percent shooting from the field, including just four field goals during the all-important second half.
Federal Way lost in the 4A title game last season to Lewis & Clark and also finished third two years ago.
Against Stanwood, the Eagles were again led by seniors Benton and Huertas-Vining. Benton, a first-team All-South Puget Sound League selection for the second year in a row, finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds against the taller Spartans. Huertas-Vining, Federal Way’s leading scorer, chipped in 15 points.
But it was the Eagles’ defense that was the difference in the game. Federal Way held Stanwood to just one field goal in the fourth quarter, which came with 6:09 left in the game. The 3-pointer by Samantha Kelleigh gave the Spartans their final lead of the game, 39-37. The Eagles finished the game on a 17-4 run.
Following the Kelleigh three, Benton scored Federal Way’s next five points to put the Eagles on top for good. Federal Way iced the game by making their final seven free throws down the stretch.
Contact Federal Way Mirror Sports editor Casey Olson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (253) 925-5565 ext. 5056.