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Could this be FWay's year for a state championship?
By CASEY OLSON
The Federal Way boys basketball program has enjoyed tons of success during Jerome Collins 20-plus years at the helm. But the longtime Eagle coach has never played in a state championship game.
This could be that year. Federal Way returns plenty of talent from a team that tied the Bethel Braves for the South Puget Sound League South Division championship a season ago. Bethel went on to win the Class 4A title, while Federal Way was bounced by Curtis in a winner-to-state, loser-out West Central/Southwest District game.
People didnt realize that we were relatively young last year, Collins said. We have really hit the weights hard in the offseason. This is the (physically) strongest team Ive had.
Leading the list of Eagle returners are two of the better players in the state in 6-foot-4 wing Earnest Pooh Williams and 6-4 junior point guard Terrell Smith.
As a junior, Williams averaged 16 points a game and spent the summer playing the highly-regarded Friends of Hoop AAU team. Williams, who has already signed a national letter of intent to play at Utah State in the fall, scored 20 points in a season-opening win over Bethel Tuesday. Smith, who averaged 10 points last year, had 18 against Bethel.
(College scouts) are already drooling over him, Collins said about Smith.
Also back is 6-3 wing Dwayne Alo, although he is ineligible for the first four games of the season, according to Collins.
The Eagles did, however, lose a lot of talent from last years title team, including four players now suiting up at community colleges. Gone are last years All-City Player of the Year Morris Anderson (Highline CC), Anwar Asadi (Green River), Elon Langston (Green River) and Marcus Wright (Green River). Starting point guard C.J. Green is playing football at Western Washington.
The SPSL South Division title should come down to Federal Way and Curtis. The Vikings are currently the No. 1-ranked Class 4A team in the state, according to the Seattle Times preseason poll. Federal Way is ranked third behind Franklin. Puyallup and Decatur should also have solid teams.
But getting out of the rugged West Central/Southwest District Tournament should be tough again this year. Ten of the top-18 ranked teams in the state hail from the Eagles district. Only seven berths into the Class 4A tournament are alloted to the West Central/Southwest District, which includes the SPSL North and South, Narrows and Greater St. Helens leagues.
The Gators hope this is the year they get back to the postseason. Its been three years since Decatur has sniffed the playoffs. Head coach Kevin Olson returns four starters from a team that finished 6-14 a season ago.
The Gators also had a strong offseason. During the summer, Decatur finished up 25-5 overall and won a pair of tournament titles. The Gators also took the Highline Fall League Tournament, beating the likes of South Kitsap and Kentwood both rated in the Seattle Times preseason Top-10.
We believe in ourselves, our ability to defend