Federal Way and Jefferson both stand one win away from state

Federal Way senior Briana Bennett battles with a South Kitsap defender for a rebound during Thursday
Federal Way senior Briana Bennett battles with a South Kitsap defender for a rebound during Thursday's 59-41 win over the Wolves.
— image credit: Casey Olson/The Mirror

By CASEY OLSON, The Mirror

It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. At least that’s what Federal Way girls basketball coach Danny Graham keeps telling himself.

Just like they’ve done all season long, the Eagles overcame a sluggish first quarter and rolled in the second half to down the South Kitsap Wolves, 59-41, in the opening round of the West Central District Tournament. The win earned the Eagles a match up with the ninth-ranked Bellarmine Prep Lions in a winner-to-state game at 6 p.m. tonight at Puyallup High School. Bellarmine Prep beat Rogers in their opener Thursday night, 59-39.

“We’ve done that all year,” Graham said. “We always start the first quarter slow and I have no idea why. It must be poor coaching. But if we come out and play like this (tonight) we are going to get blown out.”

The Eagles (18-4) came out of the locker room ice cold in the first quarter. Federal Way didn’t get on the scoreboard until junior guard Jacqie Evenson hit a 3-pointer 5:15 into the opening quarter. Luckily, South Kitsap’s offense wasn’t much better. The Wolves could only build a 14-9 lead after the first 10:25 of play.

From then on it was all Eagles. Federal Way methodically plowed by the Wolves in the second half on their home court. The Eagles outscored South Kitsap, 35-19, in the final two quarters.

“Our goal all season has been going to state,” Graham said. “And we are one game away. That’s all we can ask.”

Evenson led the way for Federal Way. The lanky 5-foot-9 right-hander tallied a game-high 20 points, including eight in the decisive third quarter. Freshman Brittany Barrington chipped in 10 points, all in the third quarter, when the Eagles outscored the Wolves, 21-10.

Also helping out Federal Way was the free-throw shooting of South Kitsap. The Wolves made just 14 of 36 shots from the line.

“The plan was to pressure them all game long,” Graham said. “We believe we are in better shape than any other team and in the second half, we don’t get tired. We are pretty physical team and we give up a lot of foul shots.”

Jefferson 50, Bethel 41 (Thursday)

The Raiders (16-8) continued their late-season roll Thursday night with a mild upset of the Bethel Braves on the road in Spanaway.

The win was TJ’s third straight in the postseason after finishing just 7-7 in the SPSL North.

The Raiders will take on eighth-ranked Mt. Tahoma, the champs of the Narrows League, at 6 p.m. tonight at Puyallup High School. The winner will earn a berth into the Class 4A State Tournament, where TJ hasn’t played since 2003.

The Raiders got 16 points from sophomore guard Hannah Kiyohara and nine each from Keely Nelson-Rivers and Unique Taufa’asau. Jefferson jumped out to a 29-17 lead at halftime and hung on in the third and fourth quarters.

Bethel finished second in the SPSL South, while Jefferson ended up fourth in the North Division.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

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