Federal Way and Decatur punch state tickets

Decatur junior point guard makes a no-look pass during Thursday’s 66-55 win over the Gig Harbor Tides in a loser-out, winner-to-state West Central District Tournament game at Auburn High School - Casey Olson/The Mirror
Decatur junior point guard makes a no-look pass during Thursday’s 66-55 win over the Gig Harbor Tides in a loser-out, winner-to-state West Central District Tournament game at Auburn High School
— image credit: Casey Olson/The Mirror

By CASEY OLSON, The Mirror

It’s back to state for both the Federal Way Eagles and Decatur Gators.

The two teams each won loser-out, winner-to-state games Thursday night at the West Central District Tournament. The Eagles downed the Kentwood Conquerors, 51-44, and the Gators beat up the Gig Harbor Tides, 66-55. Both games were played at Auburn High School.

“We got it done and when you get to the state tournament, anything can happen,” said Decatur coach Kevin Olson. “I’m very proud of our guys.”

The 16-team Class 4A State Tournament kicks off Wednesday inside the Tacoma Dome. Decatur and Federal Way will find out tomorrow who they will play in the opening round. The Gators won their first game last year, before losing two straight in Tacoma. The Eagles dropped their opening two games in 2007.

“We are going back to state,” said Federal Way junior guard Andre Barrington, who finished with 12 points. “We played hard and executed. We just knew we had to get back to state.”

The Eagles (18-6) jumped all over Kentwood early in the first quarter. A Barrington 3-pointer with 35.9 seconds left in the period put Federal Way up 17-9. The Conks, who tied with Kentridge and Decatur for the South Puget Sound League North Division championship, fought back in the second quarter and cut the Eagle lead to 24-22 at half.

But Federal Way went on a 14-7 run during the third quarter to grab a 10-point lead. The Conks, however, weren’t done. Kentwood climbed back to within one, 45-44, with 2:55 left in the game, before Eagle junior point guard Jeff Forbes hit six-straight free throws down the stretch to put an end to Kentwood’s season.

Senior Aaron Broussard led four Federal Way players in doubles figures with 16 points. Sophomore Cole Dickerson finished with 12 and Forbes chipped in 11.

The Eagles, who won three-straight loser-out games at the district tournament, and Kentwood split their two SPSL North regular-season games.

Unlike Federal Way, the seventh-ranked Gators (20-6) were never really threatened Thursday night by Gig Harbor, who finished fourth in the Narrows League. Decatur, led by 6-foot-5 Darious Walker, rolled to a 13-8 advantage after the first quarter and extended it to 28-15 at halftime.

Walker was a beast down low for the Gators. The senior tallied 14 first-half points and finished with 22 and nine rebounds.

“I put it all on my seniors tonight,” Olson said. “They needed to step up for us to get there. I told them they had to prove it tonight.”

Walker’s big night offset a poor shooting performance by Decatur’s leading scorer, Marcus Tibbs. The senior guard finished just 4 for 19 from the field, including 1 of 9 from 3-point range. Walker, on the other hand, was 10 for 13.

“Darious really picked it up tonight and played hard,” said Tibbs, who finished with 13 points.

Junior point guard Michael Hale chipped in 16 points.

“If I’m not having a great night, Marcus is always there,” Hale said.

Gig Harbor senior Mathias Ward, a 6-5 senior headed to the University of Montana, led the Tides with 29 points.

“Districts might be more nerve-racking than state,” Olson said. “If you lose at districts then you aren’t getting to state. We thought we were the better team and we came out and proved it.”

Federal Way 67, Bethel 47 (Tuesday)

Federal Way went on a 15-2 run late in the third quarter and ran away from the Braves at Mount Tahoma Tuesday night in a loser-out game. The win set up Thursday’s winner-to-state contest against Kentwood.

Broussard scored 22 points and Forbes had 19 to lead four players in double figures for the Eagles. Isiah Umipig had 13 points, including three 3-pointers, and dished out eight assists for Federal Way. Bethel (16-8) was led by the 16 points of Brandon MaGee.

Decatur 63, Central Kitsap 45 (Tuesday)

The Gators remained alive in the West Central District Tournament thanks to Tibbs’ 32 points in the loser-out contest at Foss. Decatur was dropped into the loser’s bracket by Bellarmine Prep last week in the semifinals.

Central Kitsap (15-10) never really threatened Decatur during the game. The Gators jumped out to a 33-24 halftime lead and outscored the Cougars, 19-8, in the fourth quarter.

Walker added 11 points and Hale had 10 for the Gators.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

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