Federal Way, Decatur student sections weren't the only loud things in Tacoma

By CASEY OLSON, The Mirror

Before the Federal Way Eagles’ big-time upset of the second-ranked Franklin Quakers on Friday afternoon, the talk around the Tacoma Dome crowd wasn’t about rebounding and 3-point shooting.

The talk centered on Federal Way head coach Jerome Collins’ suit.

It’s become a tradition for Collins, who has been the Eagles coach since the 1980s, to show up on the sidelines with a little something special, in terms of his outfit.

This year’s Class 4A State Boys Basketball Tournament was no different.

Wednesday morning before the Eagles took out the Quakers, Collins emerged from the locker room with an immaculate lavender and white jacket, a lavender vest, a purple tie and lavender pants. Thursday he rocked a dark purple suit.

During his tenure at Federal Way, Collins has placed many players at the collegiate level, including two in the NBA — Michael Dickerson and Donny Marshall.

Collins’ teams have racked up nine South Puget Sound League championships, five West Central District titles and four Final Four appearances at state.

Collins has racked up 342 wins during his 26 years as the head coach at Federal Way, which ranks him in the top 50 all time in Washington.

• The Decatur Gator fans also stand out inside the Tacoma Dome, thanks to bright orange jump suits, intermixed with some orange-tinted camouflage. The Gator fans look like they should be heading out into the boondocks for a hunting trip instead of cheering for the Decatur basketball team.

But the students wearing orange started about a decade ago when the school was shipped the wrong color overalls that some seniors had ordered to watch sporting events in. It was too late to return the garments before a big game, so the orange had to stay and it’s been the Decatur fans’ signature ever since.

• The Decatur Gators drew the unenviable 9 a.m. game to open the Class 4A tournament Wednesday morning and it was something that worried head coach Kevin Olson.

“I talked to a couple coaches who have played that game and they gave me some advice,” Olson said.

The advice was to get his players up early the day before the tournament. So on Tuesday, the Decatur coaching staff conducted a practice at 5:45 a.m.

“I just wanted to get them up and have a little shoot around,” Olson said. It worked out perfectly. The Gators dominated Snohomish, 49-39.

The Decatur coaching staff also had breakfast waiting for the Gator players on Wednesday morning on their bus ride into Tacoma.

“We had some fruit, rolls, muffins and juice,” Olson said.

• Unlike in years past, the Class 4A state basketball tournaments aren’t being held in the same place as the 3A tournaments. For the first time in several years, next week’s Class 3A boys and girls tournaments will be held in Seattle at both the Key Arena and Bank of America Arena at the University of Washington.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) voted last year to hold the 3A tournaments in Seattle, where a bulk of the teams hail from. The WIAA is banking that attendance will be higher for 3A in Seattle.

• Attendance on Wednesday was 11,279, an increase of 2,662 over last year, when bad weather and an accident closed down westbound lanes of I-90. The number is slightly higher than Wednesday attendance in 2006.

• Message boards, blogs and newspapers have been ringing for the last week about a possible “dream” matchup of Franklin against Ferris in the title game.

But Federal Way made sure that wouldn’t happen with a 63-58 win over No. 2-ranked Franklin in the opening round Wednesday.

Franklin hadn’t lost a game to a Washington high school this season until Wednesday. Franklin’s only two losses came at a holiday tournament in San Diego to a pair of California powerhouses. Ferris entered the tournament with a perfect 25-0 record.

“Part of our issue is our youth,” said Franklin coach Jason Kerr after the Federal Way game. “We’ve been trying to find consistency in our execution all year. We’ve been lucky – until today – to squeak out wins on those days.”

For the record, Federal Way basically plays only one senior — Aaron Broussard — and has only three on its roster. Franklin has five seniors.

• Wednesday’s win over the Franklin Quakers was Federal Way’s first victory at the Class 4A state tournament since the Eagles beat Eastlake in 2003, 64-63. Federal Way lost two straight last year.

• The Tacoma Dome is not the most modern facility in the world and doesn’t have some of the luxury items that places like the Key Arena and Bank of America Arena have.

But it has done the job it was constructed to do — host events.

Groundbreaking for the facility took place on July 1, 1981. The building was constructed in less than two years and officially opened on April 21, 1983. The Tacoma Dome hosted its first major concert on Aug. 11, 1983, with David Bowie.

The fastest concert sellout in the Dome’s history was the Backstreet Boys in 1999, when the 23,000-seat arena sold out in 38 minutes. The fastest non-concert sellout was the May 2000 presentation of WWF Smackdown. That took only 27 minutes.

Another interesting tidbit about the Class 4A tournaments inside the Tacoma Dome is the fact that you can watch a boys basketball game while drinking a beer. McKinley’s Grill overlooks the court and serves food and drink.

• University of Washington head men’s coach, Lorenzo Romar, was seen chowing down on a big plate of french fries before Wednesday’s Federal Way-Franklin game. Romar was paying close attention to Franklin junior guard Peyton Siva, arguably the best junior in the state.

• The boys and girls games are definitely different to watch, mostly because the girls employ a shot clock. The clock was put into the girls’ games years ago to not allow teams to stall and play low-scoring games.

There has been some talk of instituting a shot clock on the boys’ side, possibly next season.

• Only three schools have both boys and girls teams at the 4A tournaments — Bellarmine Prep, Snohomish and Prairie.

• Of the 16 teams competing this year at the Class 4A state tournament, 10 of them played at last year’s tournament, including Federal Way and Decatur.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

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