Jefferson, Federal Way bounced from state


Sports Editor

Kentlake rolls past Raiders, ending unexpected season

The surprising run of the Thomas Jefferson girls basketball team came to an end last Friday morning at the 4A state championships with a 48-36 loss to the Kentlake Falcons.

The loss in the consolation round at the Tacoma Dome was the second year in a row the Raiders have failed to garner their first state tournament trophy. Last year, Jefferson’s only appearance at state, the Raiders were also ousted in the consolation semifinals.

Jefferson finished the 2002-03 season with a 19-9 record after an opening-round state loss to eventual third-place finisher Garfield and a consolation bracket win over Central Kitsap Thursday.

This year’s run through the regular and post-seasons were a little different from a year ago. The 2001-02 Raiders featured several all-time Jefferson recordholders, including Michelle Morse and Jessiye Clark. Morse ended her career as the leading scorer in school history with 1,384 points and Clark is the all-time Raider leader in assists and three-point shooting.

“Nobody really expected much out of us this year,” said coach Mike Grady.

Senior Chelsea Hunt was the lone returning starter from last year and is better-known as a soccer player than a basketball talent. Hunt has already committed to play soccer at the nationally-renowned University of San Francisco.

Against Kentlake, problems that have plagued the Raiders all season long sprung up again – turnovers, scoring and rebounding. Those areas allowed Kentlake to jump all over Jefferson in the first half, taking a commanding 24-14 lead into the locker room. That lead was extended to 34-15 early in the third quarter.

Kentlake played stifling defense against the Raiders and limited Jefferson to only 10 shot attempts in the first half, compared to 35 attempts by Kentlake.

The reason for the large disparity in shots was Jefferson’s inability to take care of the basketball and the dominance Kentlake displayed offensive rebounding.

Jefferson turned the ball over 18 times in the first half and allowed Kentlake 12 offensive rebounds, compared to only one of their own.

In total, the Raiders tallied 35 turnovers during the game.

Hunt led the Raiders with 11 points, four rebounds and four assists. Senior Kezia Long tallied nine points, five rebounds and six blocked shots.

Eagles give up 15-point lead to Walla Walla

Federal Way’s luck finally ran out.

The Eagles were bounced from the Class 4A state basketball championships Friday afternoon by Walla Walla, 59-54, after giving up a 15-point, second-half lead.

The loss to the Blue Devils came one day after Federal Way’s Andre Piper-Jordan culminated a 16-point, second-half comeback with an improbable three-pointer at the buzzer to keep the Eagles’ season alive with a 64-63 win over Eastlake.

Things were different Friday. The Eagles couldn’t hold off Walla Walla in the second half. The Blue Devils tallied five three-pointers in the third quarter to cut the Federal Way lead to just five entering the final eight minutes after trailing 34-19 early in the third. From that point, Walla Walla outscored Federal Way 40-20.

“You’ve got to give them credit,” said coach Jerome Collins. “We just lost intensity.”

Friday’s loss to Walla Walla left the Eagles one win short of picking up a state tournament trophy, which are awarded to the top-eight finishers. Federal Way lost to top-ranked and eventual runnerup Mead in the first round.

Also hurting the Eagles Friday was their shooting from the free throw line. Federal Way hit only 13-of-24 from the line (54 percent). Nate Sanchez led the Eagles with 15 points and seven rebounds. Myron Hennings had 14 points and Piper-Jordan chipped in nine points and five rebounds.

Federal Way loses seven seniors to graduation, including its two leading scorers –– Sanchez and Hennings. Sanchez will be the toughest loss. The 6-foot-7 post was named the SPSL South Player of the Year and was the focal point of the Eagles’ slow-it-down offense all season long, averaging 19.4 points. The explosive Hennings averaged 16.9 points during the season.

But Collins brings back a strong cast of players who received a lot of playing time during the season. The leading returning scorer will be junior Darius Alo, who tallied 7.5 points a game. Also back will be point guard C.J. Green, 6-foot-4 wing Greg Warren, guard Morrell Chon, wing London Carter and sophomore Morris Anderson, among others.

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