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No. 1 Curtis sinks No. 2 Eagles at the buzzer
By CASEY OLSON
The most anticipated game in the Class 4A ranks this season didnt disappoint the standing-room only crowd of 1,500-plus Friday night. But, in the end, it was a questionable foul call that decided the game.
Curtis ultra-talented point guard Isaiah Thomas sank two of three free-throw attempts with no time left on the clock to give the No. 1-ranked Curtis Vikings a 78-77 win over No. 2 Federal Way inside Curtis gym in University Place in a battle for first-place in the South Puget Sound League South Division.
It was just a game that everybody wants to play in, said Federal Way senior Earnest Pooh Williams. No. 1 against No. 2 you cant ask for more than that.
With six seconds remaining in the game, Federal Way (4-1) junior Terrell Smith sank a pair of pressure-packed free throws after being fouled by Thomas to put the Eagles in front 77-76. The two Smith free throws came just 20 seconds after he missed a pair of foul shots with the Eagles clinging to a two-point lead. Smith, a 6-4 point guard, finished with 26 points, including three first-half three pointers.
Following a Curtis (5-0) timeout, the ball was inbounded to Thomas, who dribbled the length of the court and threw up a running three-pointer from the left wing as the buzzer went off. Federal Way guard Brandon Gist-Williams was whistled for the foul after apparently hitting Thomas non-shooting hand.
I thought it was our game then, said Pooh Williams. We were called for some cheap fouls in the end.
Thomas calmly swished the first free throw to tie the game before missing the second. The third free throw bounced off the front of the rim before falling through the net and sending the Curtis crowd onto the court in celebration.
Thomas finished 17-for-29 from the field with an impressive 42 points. He was also 6-for-8 from the free-throw line.
It looked like the Eagles were on their way to the mild upset late in the game. Federal Way got a lay-up by Williams with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter to take a commanding 73-66 lead. But Thomas tallied 10 points in the final 50 seconds to bring the Vikings back.
I told him that he played a good game, said Williams, who played with Thomas in junior high and during the summer on the heralded Friends of Hoop AAU team. He definitely put on a show.
Williams, who has already signed a national letter of intent to play at Utah State in the fall, also put on a show Friday night. The 6-5 wing tallied 30 points, including 13 in the decisive fourth quarter, when the Eagles outscored Curtis 24-18.
The Vikings actually held a pair of double-digit leads during the game, including a 60-49 advantage with just over a minute left in the third quarter. But athletic Federal Way used a 20-4 run to take a 69-64 lead with 2:33 left in the game. The Eagles first lead of the game came after senior Dwayne Alo converted on a putback to put Federal Way up 65-64.
Curtis went without a field goal for a 5:29 stretch during the fourth quarter before an Alex Seymour layup with 1:35 left cut the Federal Way lead to three.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, email@example.com