Sports

Federal Way stunned by Prairie

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

Their backs are really against the wall now.

The Federal Way boys basketball team lost a double-overtime heartbreaker to the Prairie Falcons Thursday night on their home court in the opening round of the ultra-competitive West Central/Southwest District Tournament, 79-75.

The loss drops the Eagles (18-5) into the consolation bracket and a rubber match with the Puyallup Vikings at 8 p.m. tonight at Auburn High School in a loser-out contest. Puyallup lost to the No. 1-ranked South Kitsap Wolves in their first-round game Thursday in Port Orchard, 72-53.

Federal Way and Puyallup (17-6) split their two South Puget Sound League South Division games during the regular season, with both winning on their home floors. The Eagles are now forced to win three games this week to make their third Class 4A state tournament in the last four seasons.

“Every game is going to be tough from here on out,” said Eagle head coach Jerome Collins.

Thursday night’s loss to Prairie (20-5) might be a little tougher to swallow. Federal Way missed out on numerous opportunities to put away the No. 2-seed from the Greater St. Helen’s League.

The Eagles best chance to get the victory came at the end of the first four-minute overtime period.

After a 3-pointer from junior Earnest Williams tied the game at 68-68, Federal Way senior captain Morris Anderson stole the ball near half court with just 12 seconds remaining and took the ball hard to the basket. Anderson, however, missed the contested layup. The Eagles did get the ball back after Prairie knocked it out of bounds with 4.6 seconds left. But, this time, senior Anwar Asadi missed a point-blank layin as time expired, sending the game to another overtime session.

In the second OT, the Falcons tallied the first three points before a pair of Terrell Smith free throws tightened the score to 71-70. But Prairie’s Jordan Ard was too much down the stretch. The 6-foot-5 senior forward scored seven of the Falcons’ next eight points to finalize the road victory.

“This was our first time hosting a first-round game since we went to this format,” Collins said. “The last two times we went to state (2002 and ’03), we played on the road. So this is a change.”

A change that didn’t work out too well. The Eagles seemed out of synch for much of the first half thanks, in large part, to the play of Orlander Westbrooks. The 6-foot-2 guard torched the Federal Way defense for 26 of the Falcons’ 34 first-half points. A late 4-0 run by the Eagles got them to within six, 34-28, at halftime. Westbrook ended the game with 35 points and 12 rebounds on 13 of 15 shooting from the field.

Federal Way, however, rallied in the second half to get the game into overtime thanks to the play of Anderson and a swarming defense.

After the two teams exchanged baskets early in the third, the Eagles turned up the defensive pressure and Anderson found his shooting touch. With two minutes left in the quarter, Federal Way erupted for a 13-0 run thanks to three Anderson 3-pointers to take their first lead of the game, 54-48.

But Prairie had a rally of its own in the fourth and seemed primed to win the game in regulation. The Falcons took a 62-59 lead on two free throws from Westbrooks with 19.3 seconds left in regulation before Anderson hit a high-arcing 3-pointer from the corner with four seconds remaining to send the game into the first overtime.

Anderson finished with 23 points, including seven threes. Williams led the Eagles with 24 points and Smith ended up with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Ard finished with 20 points for Prairie and Jeff Strom tallied 11 points and 14 rebounds.

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