Federal Way's magic finally fizzles


Sports editor

It just wasn’t meant to be.

The Federal Way boys basketball team won’t be making its third straight appearance at the Class 4A State Basketball Championships inside the Tacoma Dome. Central Kitsap downed the Eagles 67-56 Tuesday night at Auburn High School in a loser-out, winner-to-state West Central/Southwest District Tournament game.

“We just didn’t have it,” said longtime Federal Way coach Jerome Collins. “We didn’t shoot well and the ball never bounced our way.”

The loss to Central Kitsap ended a three-year streak of winning loser-out games at the league and district tournaments. Since the 2002 South Puget Sound League Tournament, the Eagles had compiled a perfect 11-0 record in must-win games before matching up with Central Kitsap Tuesday.

But Federal Way just dug themselves too big of a hole early in both halves. From the opening tip in the first quarter, Central Kitsap ran out to a 9-0 lead over the Eagles, thanks to three easy layups and a 3-pointer by junior Neil Fryer. Federal Way’s first points, a 3-pointer by senior Darius Alo, came with 5:29 left in the first quarter.

The Eagles clawed their way back into the game after Central Kitsap’s early run, thanks to 3-pointers and free throws. Federal Way hit five first-half threes and were 6-for-8 from the free-throw line to go into the locker room at halftime down only 34-27.

But Central Kitsap, who will be making their first state tournament since 1971, started the second half similar to the first. The Cougars used a 10-0 run the first three minutes of the third quarter to build a 44-27 advantage.

Federal Way tried to comeback with defensive pressure and 3-point shooting. Alo hit back-to-back 3-pointers, followed by threes from freshman Terrell Smith, Michael Holiday and junior Morris Anderson early in the fourth quarter to pull to within four, 46-42. Central Kitsap’s only points during the final 4:46 of the third came on a goal-tending call by senior Londen Carter.

“We got into some passing lanes and made some correct reads to gain some momentum,” Collins said.

That momentum quickly ended with a 10-2 Central Kitsap run in the next 2:30 to put the game away. The Cougars took control by pounding the ball inside to the 6-4 Fryer and Brice Brooks. Brooks, a 6-foot-6 senior, finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds and Fryer scored a game-high 21 and grabbed nine rebounds. Fryer scored eight in the fourth quarter and had 11 in the first quarter as the Cougars built their 14-point lead.

Holiday scored 12 for Federal Way, including nine in the fourth quarter. Alo also scored 12, all on 3-pointers, which the Eagle offense settled for all night long. In total, Federal Way shot an SPSL season-high 35 times from behind the 3-point arc — making 11.

“They really tried to do it a third time,” Collins said about the state tournament. “Things just didn’t go right for us.”

Federal Way will lose four seniors to graduation — Alo, Carter, 6-5 wing Greg Warren and guard Michael Brooks.

Alo, who led the Eagles in scoring with 18 points a game, has been getting some looks from programs like Seattle Pacific University, Seattle U., the University of Puget Sound, Portland and the Air Force Academy, along with most community colleges in the Northwest.

“He’s going to have some options,” Collins said. “And he just turned 17 and really should be a junior (in school).”

Carter and Warren, both three-year letter winners, are being wooed by places like Highline, Green River and Pierce.

“They are three good kids,” Collins said. “They have done everything we have asked them to do. It’s going to be tough to say goodbye to them.”

But the underclassmen the Eagles ran out on the floor will make it a little easier during the offseason. Federal Way returns eight, including Anderson, the Eagles’ second-leading scorer (198 points). Also back will be point guards C.J. Green and Elon Langston, 6-2 Marcus Wright, Smith (eight points a game), forward Jon Flood and Holiday, who was the only Eagle willing to take the ball to the basket against Central Kitsap.

“We were really young this season,” Collins said. “We were always positive, but we didn’t think we would make it as far as we did. But we did things to gather as much experience as we could. We were really blessed and fortunate to go through playoffs like we did. That’s great for our young kids.”

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

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