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ALL-CITY BOYS BASKETBALL: TJ's Daryon James led Raiders into unchartered waters this season
When Daryon James stepped on the campus at Thomas Jefferson High School as a freshman, he had one goal in mind — to put the Raider basketball program on the map.
The senior officially accomplished his goal. The 6-foot-1 guard was the difference-maker for the Raiders this season, leading Jefferson into the final 16 teams in Class 4A for the first time since 1974. James and the Raiders eventually lost to eventual state-champion Curtis at the Regional Tournament.
James led the Raiders in scoring at 18.8 points a game and also averaged 4.3 assists and 3.5 rebounds. James was especially deadly during TJ’s postseason run. After finishing in third place in the SPSL North and losing their first round game at the West Central District Tournament, the Raiders won two-straight games to qualify for regionals.
During his final four games of the year, James averaged 26 points a game and cemented his place as the Mirror’s 2013 Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
“Daryon is a testament to what hard work does,” said TJ head coach Kyle Templeton. “He has worked harder than maybe anyone I have ever coached and became a complete player. He was the catalyst in one of the best seasons in TJ history and will forever be a benchmark for players coming through the program.”
James finished his career at Jefferson ranked in the top-five in school history in scoring, assists, steals and 3-pointers made. He also ranks atop the school’s list in games played, according to Templeton. James was named a first-team, All-South Puget Sound League North Division guard by the league’s coaches.
It’s still up in the air where James will play college basketball next season.
Bogdon Bliznyuk, Beamer
The 6-foot-5 Bliznyuk had an impressive season for the Titans. The senior averaged 15.1 points a game and 7.7 rebounds and helped Beamer qualify for the Regional Tournament.
Bliznyuk scored in double figures in all but three games for the Titans this season, including a season-high 23 points twice. Bliznyuk was voted to the SPSL South’s first-team by the league’s coaches after leading Beamer in scoring and rebounding.
Juwan Flowers, Beamer
The senior point guard led the Titans to an 11-5 record in the rugged SPSL South, which included eventual state champion Curtis, Federal Way and Bethel.
Flowers led the Titans to wins over Garfield, who was ranked No. 1 for most of the season, along with a win over Federal Way. Flowers was second on the team in scoring at 14.2 points a game and led the team in assists (3.1 a game) and steals (2.1). The 6-footer tallied a season-high 35 points during a blowout win over Graham-Kapowsin and had 24 during a game against Puyallup.
Flowers was voted to the SPSL South’s first-team by the league’s coaches
Brayon Blake, Federal Way
The 6-foot-6 junior was the Eagles’ most consistent player throughout the season. Blake led Federal Way in scoring at 14.5 points a game and rebounding. He was also voted to the SPSL South’s first-team.
Blake tallied a season-high 23 points in a game twice during the year in wins over Spanaway Lake and Auburn. He helped the Eagles roll out to an 11-0 start and the No. 2 ranking in the state. Federal Way finished the regular season with an 18-3 regular season before the Eagles lost two-straight games at the West Central/Southwest District Tournament.
It was the second year in a row that Blake was on the SPSL South’s first team.
Jason Young, Decatur
The senior guard was the Gators’ best player during the season and led Federal Way in scoring at 18.9 points a game. Young was Decatur’s only first-team, All-SPSL 3A selection.
Young scored in double figures in 20 of the Gators’ 22 games and had 20 or more points in 11 games. He tallied a season-best 31 points during a loss to Peninsula on Jan. 22. His best game might have come during a win over Enumclaw that clinched the Gators a spot in the postseason.
Malik Montoya, Federal Way
The sophomore had an impressive season for the Eagles. Montoya was a second-team, All-SPSL South selection by the league’s coaches after averaging 12.7 points for Federal Way.
Montoya scored 20 or more points three times during the season, including a career-best 24 during an 80-61 win over Puyallup on Dec. 18. Montoya also had 22 points during the Eagles’ district-opening win over Mount Rainier.
Daniel Park, Jefferson
The senior point guard ran the show for the Raiders this season. Park averaged just 9.7 points, but led the team with 5.3 assists, grabbed 4.0 rebounds a game.
But Park’s true meaning came on the defensive side of the court for Jefferson. The 5-foot-11 guard was one of the best on-ball defenders in the SPSL, according to Templeton.