Sports

Will it be great at state for Gators and Eagles?

By CASEY OLSON, The Mirror

Every team is good at the state tournament. That’s a given.

But the Federal Way Eagles and Decatur Gators will have to beat a pair of district champions in their Class 4A boys basketball state tournament openers this morning inside the Tacoma Dome.

The Eagles will take to the court at noon against the No. 2-ranked Franklin Quakers and Decatur will get the eighth-ranked Snohomish Panthers in the first game of the tournament at 9 a.m. The draw for the four-day tournament took place at the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) headquarters Sunday in Renton.

Franklin (21-2) won the Sea-King District championship with a three-point victory over Garfield Friday night and Snohomish downed Edmonds-Woodway in the Northwest District title game, 60-54, Saturday.

Federal Way (18-6) will be a big-time underdog against the Quakers, who feature All-State junior guard Peyton Siva. The 6-foot-1 Siva is averaging 19.5 points a game. Franklin also features three other double-digit scorers in Chris Holmes (15.4), Sterling Carter (12.2) and Lavell White (11.2).

According to most of the high school basketball “insiders,” a Franklin against Ferris championship game Saturday night at the Tacoma Dome is the most likely scenario.

Ferris, of Spokane, has won over 50 games in a row and is the defending 4A state champion.

Franklin has also rolled through the regular season and playoffs. The Seattle school hasn’t lost to an opponent from Washington state this season. Their only two losses came at a holiday tournament in San Diego to a pair of California teams.

But there are plenty of teams that could spoil the Franklin-Ferris championship, including the winner of the Decatur-Snohomish game.

If the matchup looks familiar, that’s because it is. The two teams met in the opening round of last year’s state tournament, with the Gators winning, 53-50.

Today’s game will also look a lot like last year. Both teams featured several underclassmen in 2007, including the Decatur big three of Michael Hale, Marcus Tibbs and Darious Walker. Hale led the Gators with 16 points during last year’s win.

Snohomish (20-3) might be the biggest team in the state. The Panthers have only one player on their roster under 6-feet tall and start only one player under 6-4. Decatur, on the other hand, doesn’t have a starter taller than 6-4.

The Panthers are led in scoring by 6-6 Zach Wilde at 16 points a game. Junior guard Brad Shaw is the only other Snohomish player averaging in double figures (11.6).

Other challengers include Kentridge, last year’s runner-up; Lincoln, the winner of the West Central District title; and Bellarmine Prep, the Narrows League champ.

Kentridge opens against Edmonds-Woodway at 3:30 p.m., and the Chargers could meet Ferris in the second round. Bellarmine Prep is also on Ferris’ side of the bracket and plays Richland at 7 p.m. Lincoln plays Mariner at 2 p.m.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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