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GIRLS BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Eagles hoping postseason run continues
The Federal Way girls basketball team has been the gold standard in the South Puget Sound League South Division in recent memory. The Eagles have made six consecutive trips to the postseason, including four-straight state tournament berths. During that time, Federal Way was an impressive 126-37 and finished second at the state tournament in 2011 and third in 2009.
But Federal Way features new leadership this season. Josh DeYoe takes over for Danny Graham.
DeYoe and the Eagles will be led this year by senior Raven Benton. The 5-foot-10 guard enters her fourth season as a starter after earning first-team, All-SPSL South honors last season. Benton averaged 15.2 points as a junior and led Federal Way to a 22-6 record and the SPSL South title.
But Benton, along with sophomore Mariyah Vongsaveng, are basically the only two players who saw any significant court time a season ago. Vongsaveng, who won the 300-meter hurdle state championship in the spring, averaged 2.9 points last year.
“We will need to play good team defense and get in the open court offensively,” DeYoe said. “Our on-court leadership will be vital.”
DeYoe will also be counting on newcomers Kayla Smith, who is a 6-foot junior, and Zaedrea Robinson, a 5-10 sophomore.
Federal Way started the season with an impressive 55-41 win over Auburn Mountainview Monday night. Benton finished with a game-high 27 points and Robinson had 14.
The Titans seem primed to make a run into the postseason after finishing 8-12 a season ago. Beamer features a new coach, Corey Alexander, and one of the best players in the SPSL, Megan Huff.
Alexander comes to Beamer after serving as an assistant at Auburn Riverside for the past two seasons. Huff is a 6-foot-2 wing, who is already drawing interest from some of the better college basketball programs in the West. Huff played in only 15 games last season as a sophomore, but averaged 16.5 points, 11 rebounds and four blocked shots a game and was also a first-team, All-SPSL South Division selection by the league’s coaches.
The Titans also return senior Makayla Sullivan and sophomores Liesa Young and Carrie Lyn Ramos. Beamer will also be counting on newcomers Nia Alexander, Bria Rice and Quinessa Caylao-do.
“Mental toughness and consistency will make the team successful,” Alexander said. “Being young might be the reason for us not to be successful.”
The Titans started the season with an impressive 69-44 non-league win over Jefferson. Huff led four Beamer players in double figures with 19 points. Rice finished with 15, Megan Lingren chipped in 11 and Alexander had 10.
The Gators had a solid year last season, finishing 8-13 in the SPSL 3A. But Decatur lost their four leading scorers, including first-team, all-leaguer A’yesia Rogers.
Latrice Johnson returns after averaging 4.1 points last season and will be joined by seniors Stephanie Maxwell and Marissa Wendel and sophomore Autumn Arment. After that, second-year head coach Alison Stephens has a very young team, including six sophomores, a freshman and one junior.
“Ability is what you’re capable of doing,” Stephens said. “Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”
Maxwell led the Gators in scoring with 11 points during their first game of the season, a 39-33 loss to Stadium Tuesday.
The Raiders qualified for the postseason for the first time since 2009 a season ago. But TJ will have a new leader this season in Gina Gildyard. She takes over from Jerry Krueger, who coached the Raiders for nine seasons. This year, Krueger led TJ into the postseason for the first time since 2009 before bowing out at the West Central District Tournament with a 10-14 record.
Krueger didn’t leave the TJ cupboard bare. Leading the list of returners is senior Jada Piper. The 5-foot-11 guard was a first-team, All-SPSL North selection last year after averaging a team-best 13.8 points. Piper scored more than 20 points five times during the season.
The Raiders open their SPSL North season at home Friday at Kentridge.
Coach: Corey Alexander (first season)
Last year’s record: 8-12 (seventh in SPSL South)
Strong returners: Jr. Megan Huff (center/forward); Sr. Makayla Sullivan (guard); Soph. Liesa Young (forward); Soph. Carrie Lyn Ramos (guard).
Key newcomers: Fr. Nia Alexander; Fr. Bria Rice; Fr. Quinessa Caylao-do.
Coach: Alison Stephens (second season)
Last year’s record: 6-12 (fourth in SPSL 3A)
Strong returners: Sr. Stephanie Maxwell (center); Sr. Latrice Johnson (guard); Sr. Marissa Wendel (forward); Soph. Autumn Ament (guard).
Key newcomers: Soph. Melissa Garcia (guard); Soph. Marissa Johnson (guard); Soph. Dez Kamm (guard); Fr. Skyler Leach (guard/forward); Jr. Janiece Flucker (guard/forward); Soph. Laticia Scott (forward); Soph. Sabrina Lee (forward).
Federal Way Eagles
Coach: Joshua DeYoe (first season)
Last year’s record: 22-6 (first in SPSL South)
Strong returners: Sr. Raven Benton (guard); Soph. Mariyah Vongsaveng (guard).
Key newcomers: Jr. Kayla Smith (forward/center).
Coach: Gina Gildyard (first season)
Last year’s record: 10-14 (fifth in SPSL North)
Strong returners: Sr. Jada Piper (guard); Sr. Reno Whitcomb (guard); Soph. Jaylynn Piper (guard); Sr. Chevay Warnes (wing).
Key newcomers: Sr. Kalia Burgess (post); Jr. Ruby Boyzo (post).