Blazing-hot Federal Way blows away Kentwood

By ERICK WALKER, For The Mirror

Federal Way boys basketball coach Jerome Collins knew he needed to tinker with his defense if the Eagles were going to slow down Kentwood star Josh Smith.

Tuesday night at Kentwood, Collins did just that and, in the process, the Eagles found their answer.

Instead of going with the traditional man-to-man defense, the Eagles shifted to a zone.

And the results proved golden for the Eagles.

Behind a relentless full-court press and a newly installed zone defense, seventh-ranked Federal Way blew past sixth-ranked Kentwood, 58-41, in a South Puget Sound League North Division showdown.

“I haven’t used it at all,” Collins said of the 3-2 zone. “It’s a defense designed for big men. We didn’t use it before, we thought we could play (Smith) straight up, but he’s too good.”

Last month, Smith, Kentwood’s 6-foot-9, 270-pound sophomore star, burned the Eagles for 23 points as the Conquerors handed Federal Way its first league loss of the season, 69-60.

Tuesday night the Eagles exacted some revenge.

Though Smith scored a team-high 16 points, he seldom got open looks and was harassed by smaller, quicker Federal Way defenders all night.

“I had no clue. Our coach was telling me to be ready ... and then, in the first part of the game, they came with three (players) and I had no idea they were going to come with three,” said Smith, who averages 23 points per game. “It was a little frustrating.”

The Eagles (7-2 in league, 10-2 overall) frustrated the Conquerors (7-2, 11-3) all night, but never more than in the decisive first quarter.

Kentwood senior Jeremy Green connected on a pair of free throws in the opening seconds, giving the Conquerors a quick 2-0 lead.

It was the last lead Kentwood would see as Federal Way, behind an attacking full-court press and dead-on shooting, went on a 17-0 run to take command of the game. Federal Way’s Aaron Broussard began the barrage with an eight-foot fadeaway and followed with a long 3-pointer, giving the Eagles a 5-2 lead. Jeff Forbes followed with a 3-pointer of his own while Cole Dickerson, on a smooth pass down low from Ian Trevis, pushed the lead to 10-2 with a short kiss off glass.

The Eagles pushed the lead to 17-2 on a pair of free throws from Andre Barrington, a fadeaway 3-pointer out of the corner from Trevis and two more points down low from Montrel Walton.

After going more than five minutes without scoring, Kentwood’s Percy Cornett momentarily ended the first-quarter bleeding, turning a long outlet pass from Smith into a layup, drawing the foul and hitting the free throw.

The Eagles then delivered the ultimate knockout punch, scoring 10 points off of four Kentwood turnovers and an errant Conqueror shot in less than 1:30 to take an insurmountable 27-5 advantage.

Eight of the points came courtesy of Federal Way’s full-court press, which forced Kentwood to take two fruitless timeouts in less than 45 seconds.

“They took two timeouts and couldn’t figure out what we were doing,” said Broussard, who scored a team-high 17 points. “After that, they didn’t want to take any more and got tired.”

During the surge in which Kentwood didn’t get the ball past midcourt on four straight possessions, Federal Way got buckets from Barrington, Broussard, Walton and Trevis.

By the end of the first quarter, the Eagles’ lead had ballooned to 31-9.

“We got sloppy with the ball,” said Kentwood coach Michael Angelidis, whose team lost for the first time in its last nine games. “We were very careless with the ball.

“It kind of snowballed on us.”

Federal Way was playing its third straight game without sophomore guard Isiah Umipig, who rolled an ankle against Decatur on Jan. 4. Umipig should be back in the next two weeks, Collins said.

“I am really proud of our kids because we were really missing our floor general in Isiah (Umipig),” Collins said. “We thought if we lost this game, there was no way we’d have a shot at the (SPSL North) championship. The kids came out shorthanded ... but they were really focused.”

After falling behind 31-9, Kentwood never got any closer than 14 points the rest of the night.

“You cannot come out and spot a team as good as they are 20 points and expect to come back,” Angelidis said. “This league is too good to take a quarter off.”

With the win, Federal Way forced a three-way tie in the SPSL North with Kentwood and Kentridge (7-2, 13-3) heading into play last night.

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