Sports

Federal Way looking to run to state

Sports editor

They don’t rebuild at Federal Way High School — they reload.

Jerome Collins lost a lot of talent off a team that made its way to the Class 4A State Basketball Championships, but the longtime Eagle coach likes the chances of this year’s squad.

“We will be right in the thick of things,” he said.

The Eagles, who finished third behind Bethel and Rogers last year, will be doing it without the reigning South Puget Sound League South Division Most Valuable Player Nate Sanchez (20 points, 12 rebounds a game) and fellow first-teamer Myron Hennings (17 points a game). Sanchez, a 6-foot-8 forward, is suiting up for Westminster College in Salt Lake City and Hennings is playing at Yakima Valley Community College.

“They were our one-two punch last year,” Collins said.

Federal Way will employ a different style of play this season. Gone will be the plodding, half-court game Collins used to take advantage of the inside game of Sanchez.

“We are gonna get up and down the court,” he said. “But that requires a degree of skill level. You have to coach what we have and Nate anchored the middle for us.”

The Eagles will be counting on the athletic ability of three seniors — Darius Alo, Greg Warren and London Carter. The trio are all in the 6-5, 6-6 range and athletic.

“They are all doing a good job,” Collins said. “They had a pretty good spring and summer and we are gonna anchor things around them.”

Also returning is junior point guard C.J. Green. Green was forced into the Eagles’ starting lineup as a sophomore after Andre Piper-Jordan broke his ankle during football season.

“Looking back on it, it was a blessing,” Collins said.

Federal Way will also have the services of three transfers from Decatur — Jon Flood, Elon Langston and Michael Brooks — and one of the more talented young players in the area in freshman Terrell Smith. Smith, a 6-3 guard/forward, will see a lot of action in his first year of high school basketball.

“He is going to be a tremendous player,” Collins said.

Bethel looks like the team to beat again in the SPSL South, along with Rogers, Puyallup and Curtis. The By CASEY OLSONEagles opened their league schedule last night against Puyallup and travel to Spanaway Lake Tuesday night.

Decatur

The Decatur Gator boy’s basketball team suffered through their first non-playoff appearance in the last 11 seasons last year. Coach Kevin Olson and the rest of his Gator squad hopes to change that this year.

Decatur finished the 2002-03 season with a 4-12 record in the South Puget Sound League South Division, which was good for seventh place in the nine-team division.

Olson will be counting on 6-foot-8 senior post Kellen McCaffrey to do a lot of the work in the paint for the Gators. McCaffrey was honorable mention all league last season after tallying nine points and five rebounds a game. Also back will be Zach Joraanstad, a senior wing who averaged five points and five rebounds, 6-2 senior wing Nick Isaac (five points, five rebounds) and guards Kyle Tait and Anwar Asadi. Newcomers Travis Wagner, Warren Faber and Brad Reid will also supply some scoring punch for the Gators.

Decatur did get some bad news during the offseason when three of their players from a season ago transferred to Federal Way, including Elon Langston, Jon Flood and Michael Brooks.

Olson sees Bethel as the team to beat in the South again, followed by Rogers, Puyallup and Federal Way.

The Gators opened their SPSL South season last night against Emerald Ridge and play Tuesday against the Curtis Vikings in University Place.

Jefferson

Tacuma Williams is trying to change the attitude within the Thomas Jefferson basketball program. The West Point graduate wants to leave the lack of success in the rear view mirror.

“It’s going to be tough to make that transition for the kids,” the first-year coach said. “Because that is what this team is famous for. They have a lack of a winning tradition and we are starting from scratch and changing the way we do everything.”

The transition will begin with a senior-laden lineup this season. The Raiders feature a roster with nine seniors and the only underclassman that will see significant playing time will be Arminder Singh, who is a junior.

“He is a great ballplayer,” Williams said about Singh. “He is going to do a lot of things for me in the future.”

Jefferson will use a balanced scoring attack this season after finishing 5-15 last season and out of the postseason. The Raiders will get a bulk of its scoring from seniors David Rengo, Coury McGinnis, Dan Deschenes, Kyle Jenkins, James Partridge and Aaron Bronson.

“These kids have been great to work with,” Williams said. “They always listen and work really hard.”

Rengo might be the most improved player from a season ago, according to Williams. The senior led the Raiders in scoring in their opening night loss to Bellevue Tuesday with 15 points.

“He is the hardest working kid I’ve ever coached,” Williams said. “I am looking to him to motivate the kids.”

Jenkins returns as the Raiders leading scorer, passer and rebounder from last year. The senior, six-footer averaged nine points, five assists and four rebounds last season.

The Raiders opened their South Puget Sound League South Division season last night against Bethel. Jefferson will play at Puyallup Tuesday night.

Beamer

Jarrett Mentink has the opportunity of starting a new basketball program at Todd Beamer High School. The 1987 Decatur grad has plenty of experience coaching, but none as a head coach. Mentink was an assistant for Ed Boyce in the early ‘90s at Decatur and spent six years as an assistant at Seattle Pacific University under Ken Bone.

The Titans are obviously young — having no seniors at the school. So Mentink will be counting on a lot of freshmen and sophomores during the 2003-04 season. Leading that list is sophomore Malcolm Giles. The 6-foot-4 sophomore is the brother of one of the better players in the state in Rainier Beach’s 6-11 C.J. Giles, who has already committed to play next season at the University of Miami.

“He has been working hard and is a pretty talented kid,” Mentink said. “But, like all of them, he has a long way to go.”

Kenny First-Rider, a junior shooting guard, will provide a lot of the leadership for the Titans.

“Things have been going pretty good for us,” Mentink said. “It is really interesting starting a new program.”

During the summer, Mentink and his team couldn’t get into the school’s gym to practice because the school was not completed yet, forcing him to hold practices outdoors at Saghalie Middle School.

“Having come from college you don’t have to deal with the intricacies of high school athletics,” he said. “But it is fun.”

Bethel looks like the team to beat in the South, Mentink said. The defending SPSL South champions return a lot of their players.

The Titans opened up their season last night against the Spanaway Lake Sentinels and play their home opener Tuesday against Emerald Ridge.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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