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Super senior: Evenson the 'heart and soul' of Federal Way
The future looks mighty bright for the Federal Way High School girls basketball team. The Eagles started four sophomores in their two wins at the Class 4A State Girls Basketball Tournament Wednesday and Thursday over defending three-time champion Lewis & Clark and Issaquah. The victories earned Federal Way a berth into the state semifinals at 8:30 p.m. Friday against Kentwood.
The last time the Eagles played in the state semifinals was in 1997 when the school won their only state basketball championship.
Federal Way will enter next season as one of the favorites to win the 2010 state championship, but they will be playing without their undisputed leader from this year — senior Jacqie Evenson.
Evenson will be the only starter to graduate from a team that qualified for Federal Way’s first state tournament since 1998 and head coach Danny Graham will miss the 6-foot guard.
“She is the catalyst behind everything we do,” Graham said. “She is our heart and soul.”
Evenson is one of the best all-around female athletes to come through Federal Way in a long time. Not only did she average 11 points, five rebounds, 4.2 assists and four steals, good enough to earn a spot on the South Puget Sound League North Division’s first team, Evenson is also a first-team defender on the soccer field and finished third in the 300-meter hurdles at last year’s state track and field meet.
Oh, and she also sports a 4.0 grade-point average and is most likely headed to Gonzaga University in the fall.
“She works very hard at everything she does,” Graham said. “Everything we have done this year is because of her. She is our absolute leader.”
According to Graham, Evenson really blossomed this season and took the unbelievable sophomore class, which includes 6-foot-2 Talia Walton, 6-foot TyShana Burgess, and guards Brittany Barrington and Chantel Dixon, under her wing. Evenson has deferred a lot of the scoring to the underclassmen in order to win basketball games.
And the guidance worked. Federal Way finished in second place in the SPSL North and third at the rugged West Central District Tournament before their run inside the Tacoma Dome.
“She had a hard time keeping her composure in the past and kind of blew up a little bit,” Graham said. “But she has been great this year and everybody has really responded to that. She has done an awesome job at staying composed. She is not always going to score all the points. But the girls do look up to her and she embraces it.”
Evenson knows she is not the best pure basketball player on the Eagles’ roster and doesn’t shy away from that, like a lot of senior starters would have done.
“She’s realistic about that and really understands her role,” Graham said. “But she still wants the ball in her hands and it’s amazing that she can go out and do it.”
Evenson’s height and long arms were a mismatch for teams all season long, especially when she brought the ball up the court and distributed.
“She’s very unselfish and would rather make a good pass than score,” Graham said.
Evenson will head right out to the Federal Way track team, which started practice last week, with the hopes of adding an individual state championship to her already impressive resume.