Eagles, Raiders light up score board

The Federal Way boys basketball team clinched a playoff spot as it ran past Jefferson 82-70 Tuesday at Jefferson.

With two games left in the regular season, Federal Way is currently in fourth place. It can finish no worse than fifth place and is holding onto hopes of third place.

If Federal Way, which had a bye last night, wins its final two games against Rogers (4-9) and Decatur (3-10), it needs third-place Curtis to lose at least one of its final three games against league-leading Puyallup (12-1), Bethel (12-1) or Jefferson (2-11). Curtis lost to Puyallup and Bethel the first time it played them this season.

“The seniors decided we don’t want fourth place,” said Federal Way senior forward Brad Mahlstedt. “In our minds, our backs are against the wall, so we’re fighting. We want to get a good seed. Our hopes for third are still alive. It’s an exciting team, it’s an exciting time.”

Federal Way used a balanced attack, putting four scorers in double figures. The Eagles are averaging 59 points per game this season, but have scored a season-high 82 points both times it played Jefferson.

Both teams came out fast, trading baskets and 3-pointers as Jefferson built a 25-24 lead after the first quarter.

“I thought it was going to be 120-110,” said Federal Way coach Jerome Collins. “Not a lot of defense was played and they were hitting everything.”

Both teams seemed comfortable running the floor and hoisting shots, which made for exciting basketball for the players and the fans.

“It was a good pace,” said Jefferson junior guard Myron Hennings. “I liked playing up and down.”

“Not many teams can stay with us when we score 25 points in the first quarter, but they had 24,” said Jefferson coach Dave Reynolds. “I’m not displeased with our effort. It was a great high school basketball game. I’m proud of my team. We came out and shot the ball well, but we made too many mistakes down the stretch.”

The Eagles utilized the inside presence of 6-6 junior Nate Sanchez, who scored 12 points in the opening period. Sanchez finished the game with 18 points and six rebounds.

Jefferson extended its lead to 35-28 with three minutes left in the second quarter after Jared Bronson made a steal and passed to Hennings, who converted for two points.

Hennings led all scorers with 28 points, including four 3-pointers.

“Myron and Matt both played a great game and shot the ball well,” Reynolds said. “We need to get consistent scoring from everybody else.”

The Eagles went on a 14-2 run, including William Reese’s 3-pointer to end the first half, to take a 42-37 lead into the locker room.

“We were with them most of the game, then we started making turnovers,” Hennings said. “In the second half, they came out hyped and we weren’t ready for it.”

In the third quarter, Jefferson cut Federal Way’s lead to 49-47, but again, the Eagles responded to the pressure. Teddy Williams and Brandon Chavers each hit 3-pointers, Brad Mahlstedt made a steal he converted for two points, and Sanchez made a diving save to Chavers, who scored on a lay-in as Federal Way went on a 10-0 run and took a 59-47 lead.

Jefferson got back within seven points, as senior guard Matt Englund nailed a running half-court 3-point shot at the third-quarter buzzer to make it 61-54, but Jefferson never got any closer.

Englund scored 21 points and grabbed five rebounds in the game.

Federal Way’s Mahlstedt scored 18 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter and Chavers, a 6-4 senior guard, scored 16.

“I like the transition game, that’s what I survive on,” Chavers said. “The past four games I’ve been playing with a lot of intensity. We did all right, but we could play better. Defense and rebounds are always key.

Federal Way’s Williams added 14 points, six assists and two steals.

For Williams, a 5-7 senior point guard and three-year letterman, it was his fourth game back on the team after missing 11 games in the middle of the season. He is steadily getting more playing time.

“It was all the difference in the world,” Collins said. “It was good to have him back. The point guard is the extension of the coach. He’s the floor general. It’s nice to have him back out doing those little things. He was running the floor and hitting some shots. And he’ll get more of his timing back the more he plays.”

Federal Way is 9-5 in the South Puget Sound League and 11-7 overall. Jefferson is 2-11 in the SPSL and 4-13 overall.

The Raiders played at Decatur last night. Look for results and highlights in Wednesday’s Mirror.

Jefferson plays at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at Bethel, then finishes the season at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8 against Curtis at Jefferson.

Federal Way had a bye last night, then plays at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 5 at Rogers. The Eagles close the regular season against Decatur at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8 at Federal Way.

“We have to be ready to play,” Collins said.

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