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Federal Way rich with boys basketball talent this season
By CASEY OLSON, The Mirror
It should be another huge year for boys basketball in Federal Way. All four teams should be factors in the South Puget Sound League postseason chase and Decatur and Federal Way have the potential to be big-time factors in the Class 4A state title race.
The best shot at the elusive state title, most likely, comes at Decatur. The Gators and head coach Kevin Olson bring back a ton of talent from last years team that was ranked in the top-five all season and won the competitive West Central District Tournament before flaming out at the state tournament. Decatur finished 24-4 on the season after losing to Pasco and Prairie at the state tournament inside the Tacoma Dome.
Decatur will be competing in the ultra-tough SPSL North Division, which also includes last years state runner-up Kentridge and another state tournament team in Kentwood.
The Gators bring back a pair of first-team, All-SPSL North Division performers from a season go in guard Marcus Tibbs and wing Darious Walker. Tibbs averaged 17 points, five rebounds and two assists a game last year and Walker chipped in 16 points and eight rebounds. Walker was awarded a fifth year of eligibility last week by the WIAA. This will be his fourth year of playing high school basketball.
Tibbs and Walker will be joined by junior point guard Michael Hale, who averaged 10 points and five assists last year as a sophomore and freshman stud Jerron Smith. The 6-foot-3 Smith scored 22 points in his first high school varsity game last week a 73-40 win over Post Falls (Ida.).
Also back is 6-5 junior Cam Schilling. Newcomers Jordan McCloud, KJ Hong and Anthony Williams will also offer some depth off the bench for the Gators.
Decatur has rolling in the early season. The Gators also blew away Beamer Friday night, 76-41, and played Kentlake last night in their SPSL North opener. Decatur takes on Inglemoor Saturday at the Les Schwab Shootout at Bellevue Community College.
The Inglemoor game comes a day after the Gators play a huge early-season SPSL North game at home Friday night against Kentridge. The Chargers return a bulk of their lineup that played in the state championship game against Ferris.
This will be a different year for the Federal Way boys basketball team. For the first time in four years, the Eagles wont have Terrell Smith on their roster. The 6-4 Smith is currently playing at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif.
But the loss of Smith might be a blessing in disguise. The 2007-08 edition of the Eagles will be more of a well-rounded basketball team, relying more on defensive pressure and a balanced scoring attack.
Federal Way finished 19-6 last season and finished in third place in the rugged SPSL North and made their first Class 4A state tournament appearance since 2003 before losing two straight inside the Tacoma Dome.
Federal Way has already proved they are going to be one of the teams to beat in the state during the first week of the season. Federal Way downed the fourth-ranked Prairie Falcons Friday night at the Falcon Tip-Off Tournament, 58-52. The Eagles have also beat Mount Tahoma and Fort Vancouver convincingly.
Leading the way has been 6-foot-4 forward Aaron Broussard. The senior is scoring 20.7 points a game and has already signed a national letter of intent to play next season at Seattle University. Broussard scored 14.1 points and grabbed 11.3 rebounds a game last year and was named to the SPSL Norths second-team. He also shot 58 percent from the field and scored in double digits in all but five games and had 20 or more points in six.
Federal Way will also be counting on underclassmen like Jeff Forbes, Isaiah Umipig, Andre Barrington and Cole Dickerson. Umipig, a sophomore point guard, is averaging 13 points a game, and Forbes is pouring in 12.3 a game, including a 20-point outburst against Mount Tahoma. Forbes averaged 4.3 points last year, Barrington tallied 4.2 and Umipig scored three points a game as a freshman.
Senior Montrel Walton is also chipping in valuable minutes and was named all-tournament at the Falcon Tip-Off. The Eagles will also have the services of 6-10 center Daniel Young, who was granted a fifth-year of eligibility last week. Young was home schooled in the ninth grade and didnt play basketball. This will be his fourth year playing.
The Eagles opened up their SPSL North season last night with a huge early-season game against the Kentwood Conquerors.
The Raiders started last season in impressive fashion. Jefferson won six of their first nine games and had a strong nucleus of young and talented players ready to make a run for their first postseason appearance in a number of years. The TJ basketball team hasnt really been competitive in the South Puget Sound League for nearly a quarter century. The last time the Raiders even played at the West Central District Tournament was 1985.
But a New Years Eve party caused the suspension of several of the players who helped the Raiders get off to the fast start and TJ finished 7-13.
This year, all the young players are back and the Raiders are rolling again. Jefferson has started the season 2-1 with non-league wins over Beamer and White River entering the rugged SPSL North regular season.
The Raiders also have a new coach this season in 1994 Federal Way High School graduate David Stone. He takes over for Tacuma Williams, who resigned following the season after four years at the helm to concentrate on becoming an administrator. Stone had been an assistant for Williams the past three years and coached the TJ junior varsity last season.
Stone will be counting on a pair of talented juniors in Spencer Sydney and Xavyr Moss. Through the first three games, Sydney is averaging 21.3 points and Moss is scoring 12.3. Sydney poured in 23 points during a 74-63 win over Beamer Saturday night and Moss chipped in 17.
Senior point guard Michael Hunter is also back after averaging 14 points a game last year and sophomore Jeff Baklund will also add some scoring punch in the backcourt. He tallied 13 points against Beamer. Stone will also be counting on J.R. Richey and Bryant Cameron.
The Raiders might have a tough time cracking the top-five spots in the SPSL North Division this season. The league is most likely the deepest in the state with perennial powers like Decatur, Federal Way, Kentwood and Kentridge seemingly locked into the top-four.
Jefferson will be battling with teams like Tahoma, Kentlake and Kent-Meridian for the fifth and final playoff berth from the eight-team league.
The Titans rolled out their most successful season in the history of the school last year when Beamer qualified for the West Central District Tournament after finishing fourth in the SPSL South.
But their run in the postseason didnt last too long. The Titans dropped their first two games at districts to finish the season 7-16 overall.
Second-year coach Connie Richardson returns a bulk of the lineup that helped Beamer finish fourth in the South with a 7-7 record. The top returner is senior point guard Dakin Wanquist.
The 6-footer is averaging 17.5 points a game in the Titans first two of the season, including a 26-point game during a loss to Jefferson on Saturday. Wanquist averaged 12.1 points last year.
Other solid returners are seniors DreVaughn Bentley and Andrew Winton. Bentley averaged nine points a game last year as a 6-3 forward and Winton chipped in 7.5 points from his guard position.
Richardson will also be counting on veterans like Evan Cook and Alex Hart, along with newcomers Christian Cooper, Bradley Williams and Philip Davis. The 5-10 Davis has been solid in the early-going for the Titans. Davis tallied eight points in a loss to Decatur and 11 against TJ.
We will be quicker this year and we are playing smarter than we did last year, Richardson said. We are led by seniors.
Beamer will be dealing with teams like Bethel, Rogers, Puyallup and Curtis for the five berths into the postseason from the SPSL South.
The teams to beat are everyone in the SPSL South, Richardson said.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, email@example.com
Coach: Connie Richardson (second year)
Last years record: 7-16 (fourth in SPSL South)
Strong returners: Sr. Dakin Wanquist (Guard), Sr. Andrew Winton (Guard), Sr. DreVaughn Bentley (Forward), Sr. Evan Cook (Center) and Sr. Alex Hart (Forward)
Top newcomers: Sr. Christian Cooper (Guard), Jr. Bradley Williams (Guard) and Sr. Philip Davis (Guard)
Coach: Kevin Olson (ninth year)
Last years record: 24-4 (second in SPSL North)
Strong returners: Sr. Marcus Tibbs (6-1, guard), Jr. Michael Hale (5-7, point guard), Jr. Cam Schilling (6-5, post), Sr. Darious Walker (6-5, forward)
Top newcomers: Soph. Jordan McCloud (6-5, post), Fr. Jerron Smith (6-3, wing), Sr. KJ Hong (6-0, guard) and Jr. Anthony Williams (6-2, wing)
Federal Way Eagles
Coach: Jerome Collins (25th year)
Last years record: 19-6 (third in North)
Strong returners: Sr. Aaron Broussard (Wing), Jr. Andre Barrington (Guard), Jr. Jeff Forbes (Guard), Soph. Isaih Umipig (Guard), Soph. Cole Dickerson (Post), Sr. Montrel Walton (Wing) and Sr. Daniel Young (Post).
Top newcomers: Jr. Jemini Davis (Wing), Sr. Shannon Nelson (Wing), Jr. Ian Tevis (Guard) and Soph. George Williams (Wing).
Coach: David Stone (first season)
Last years record: 7-13 (sixth in North)
Strong returners: Jr. Spenser Sydney (6-4, wing), Sr. Michael Hunter (6-1, guard), Jr. Xavyr Moss (6-3, guard), Sr. Bryant Cameron (6-5, center), Soph. Jeff Baklund (6-0, guard), Sr. J.R. Richey (6-0, guard), Sr. Shermarkie Ibrahim (6-5, center), Jr. Ismail Yusuf (6-1, guard), Jr. Joe Satterwhite (6-2, forward), Soph. Eric Radford (6-3, forward) and Sr. David Survine (6-2, forward).
Top newcomers: None