Federal Way girls punch first state basketball ticket since 1998

The Tacoma Dome has been a place that has eluded the Federal Way girls basketball team for the last 11 years.

Not anymore.

The young and ultra-talented Eagles (20-4) qualified for the school’s first Class 4A State Girls Basketball Tournament since 1998 Friday night with an impressive 71-62 win over the eighth-ranked Bellarmine Prep Lions in a West Central District quarterfinal game at Mount Tahoma High School.

The win over Bellarmine (19-4) earned the Eagles a district semifinal game against Auburn Riverside Tuesday night. It is the fourth time the teams have met this season, with Federal Way winning the last two contests. The seventh-ranked Ravens beat Graham-Kapowsin Friday to earn a berth in the semifinal.

The Eagles first state tournament berth would look like it would have to wait a few days against Bellarmine Prep. The Lions built up a huge 18-point lead during the second quarter.

But Federal Way, who starts four underclassmen, didn’t get rattled and used its suffocating full-court pressure defense to come back. After being down 43-37 at halftime, the Eagles gave up the first basket of the third quarter. But then tallied the next 17 points and ended the third quarter with a 56-47 lead. During the decisive third quarter, the Eagles forced 11 Bellarmine turnovers in the period.

In the fourth quarter, the Lions tried to make a comeback of their own, getting as close as 66-62 with less than a minute to play.

The Eagles were led by 6-foot-2 Talia Walton during the second half. Walton scored 14 of her 16 points after halftime for the Eagles.

Fellow sophomore TyShana Burgess scored 18 points and senior Jacqie Evenson had nine points, nine rebounds and nine assists for Federal Way.

During the Eagles’ last appearance at the Class 4A State Girls Basketball Tournament, Federal Way finished fourth inside the now-gone Kingdome. The fourth-place finish was the third-straight state berth for the Eagles, who won the 1997 state title.

Jefferson 41, Kentlake 36 (Friday)

The Raiders ( stayed alive in the West Central District Tournament Friday night with an impressive five-point win over the Kentlake Falcons at Auburn High School in a loser-out game. Jefferson takes on Rogers at 6 p.m. at Mount Tahoma Tuesday night in another loser-out game. The Raiders would need to win two more games to earn a berth into the state tournament.

The win over Kentlake came just three days after TJ’s defense gave up 80 points to Federal Way in an opening-round game.

Defense wasn’t an issue against Kentlake. The Raiders gave up just 14 points during the first half and 21 through three quarters. Offensively, TJ was led by 6-foot-1 Stacy Albrect. The senior scored a game-high 18 points and also grabbed 16 rebounds. Albrecht has already committed to play next season at Central Washington University and was the only Raider player in double figures.

Led by Albrecht, Jefferson rolled out to a 25-14 lead at halftime.

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