Win gives Eagles new life

Although a fire alarm delayed action at the start of the game, nobody threw water on Federal Way’s Nate Sanchez, who burned the gym with eight of the Eagles’ first 10 points.

The 6-foot-7 junior post helped key a 54-47 win over Port Angeles Saturday at Auburn, which helped the Federal Way boys basketball team stay alive in the West Central District playoffs — at least for now.

The Eagles played a loser-out game against Curtis last night at Auburn. If Federal Way won, it plays at 8 p.m. tomorrow night at Puyallup.

Against Port Angeles, Sanchez responded after being held to just two points in an opening-round loss to defending champs Lincoln.

“I was really frustrated after the Lincoln game and thought a lot about it,” Sanchez said. “I knew if I could perform stronger it would help our team. I was really mentally prepared for this game. I wasn’t ready for our season to end.”

Federal Way guards worked on getting the ball to Sanchez down low, and Sanchez responded.

He scored a team-high 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds. He also picked up his game on the defensive end, with three blocked shots.

“I wanted to come out stronger in the post, play better defensively and get more rebounds,” Sanchez said. “Those are three things I can do to help the team. I was the biggest guy out there on the court and I knew I had to take it to them.”

Port Angeles tried to respond to Federal Way’s height by shooting 3-pointers, but hit only two of 16 in the game.

“It was important to establish Nate early to give him confidence,” Federal Way coach Jerome Collins. “He did a good job executing. Once we got him going they got into foul trouble.”

Federal Way also utilized a height mismatch senior Brad Mahlstedt had over his defender.

“We felt we had a size advantage with Brad,” Collins said. “He did a good job posting up and going to the ball.”

Mahlstedt scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds. Senior guard Andre Piper-Jordan had 12 points and senior Jason Carlson scored seven.

The Eagles led 15-7 six minutes into the game, but Port Angeles went on a 7-0 run and cut Federal Way’s lead to 15-14 one minute into the second quarter.

Port Angeles tied the game at 30 with 7:30 left in the third quarter, then took a 36-35 lead four minutes later. Federal Way didn’t let the game get out of hand. Carlson scored his first basket of the night — a 3-pointer — to give Federal Way a 44-38 lead at the end of the third quarter.

After Port Angeles’ coach was called for a technical foul, Carlson hit a pair of free throws to give Federal Way a 46-38 lead with six minutes left in the game.

Federal Way made eight of nine free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the win and improve its record to 15-9.

“I’m proud of my guys,” Collins said. “They battled against Lincoln, who had quickness and athleticism, but we came back and didn’t hang our heads. We’ll see how we do against Curtis.”

Federal Way and Curtis split their regular season meetings. Federal Way won 62-60 the first time the teams played back in December. Curtis won 65-59 when the teams played Jan. 26.

“They’re the ones that stole our third seed (to West Central Districts out of the SPSL),” Sanchez said. “I’m ready to get back at them. We need to come out with intensity and stop their shooters.”

“We were in the same position last year,” said senior guard Teddy Williams. “We know what it feels like to lose. We want to win.”

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