Boys basketball: Top-ranked Federal Way throttles No. 3 Kentwood, 63-41; TJ loses

By ERICK WALKER/Kent Reporter

It had all the hype and plenty of big-name players, but Tuesday night’s boys basketball game between top-ranked Federal Way and No. 3 Kentwood only provided half of the substance.

Cole Dickerson scored a game-high 18 points and guard Isiah Umipig added 15 and six assists as the Eagles cruised past the Conquerors 63-41 in an early showdown between South Puget Sound League North Division favorites.

Kentwood and Federal Way shared the SPSL North crown last year.

“We knew what we had to do and had to get it done,” said the 6-foot-7 Dickerson, who will play at the University of San Francisco next year. “We knew this was a big game.”

The Eagles (2-0 in league, 3-0 overall) played like it was a big game, too. In fact, Federal Way was a step ahead of the Conquerors from the beginning, bolting out to a 14-2 lead in the first five minutes of play.

Kentwood (1-1, 1-1) got on the board first when 6-10 UCLA-bound senior Josh Smith found guard Mikell Everette underneath the hoop for an easy bucket. After that, it was all Federal Way.

“It’s plain and simple, they were ready to play and we weren’t,” said Smith, who finished with nine points, four rebounds and one blocked shot. “They executed, we didn’t. They outplayed us, outworked us.”

Smith, the two-time SPSL North MVP, was unable to get going all night. He committed three fouls in the first eight minutes and was relegated to the bench for the entire second quarter. Things went from bad to worse for the Conquerors in the fourth quarter, when Smith limped off the court reaching for his right knee after landing awkwardly on a blocked-shot attempt.

“The last possession I was in, I reached up to get the block. When I fell down, I felt something crack. It felt awkward after that,” explained Smith, who averaged 24.5 points per game last year. “I’m probably going to get an MRI (Wednesday).”

With or without Smith, there was little stopping the Eagles on Tuesday.

Federal Way’s fast start was keyed by a relentless full-court press and torrid shooting by its guards. The Eagles hit 4-of-5 from 3-point land in the first quarter, two by guard George Williams.

“We felt we could take advantage and exploit them on the perimeter with our quickness offensively and defensively,” said Federal Way coach Jerome Collins.

Federal Way took a 21-8 lead after the first quarter and continued to set the pace in the second, when Umipig scored 9 of his 15 points. Meanwhile, with Smith on the bench with three fouls, Kentwood picked up the pace offensively in the second quarter, getting four points apiece from Taylor Jones and Jason Boyce, but still went into the break trailing 38-20.

The Conquerors went on an 8-0 run to start the second half, six of which came down low from Smith, cutting the deficit to 38-28, but that’s as close as Kentwood would get the rest of the night.

It was too little, too late, Kentwood coach Michael Angelidis lamented.

“We backed down. I thought we did a good job in the third quarter and that’s it. But the game is four quarters,” Angelidis said. “This was a great early season test for us because it really exposed everything we’re not good at. They took it to us.

“I think ultimately that this will be a good team.”

Federal Way’s pressure defense forced Kentwood into 16 turnovers and essentially set the pace for the game. In addition, without Smith’s presence inside, the Conquerors were unable to get into a rhythm from the outside. Kentwood was 0-for-12 from 3-point range.

“They’re a good team. I feel like we just couldn’t handle the pressure they gave us,” said Boyce, who led the Conquerors with 10 points.

After Dickerson and Umipig, Federal Way was led by Williams and Tyrell Lewis, both of whom chipped in 10 points. Two of Lewis’ 10 points came on a one-handed catch and dunk on a long pass from Umipig, a play that brought the crowd to its feet.

“All the guys they have are very athletic,” Angelidis said. “They don’t have a guy who’s slow. They keep coming after you.”

Aside from Boyce and Smith, Kentwood’s Everette added eight points while Jones chipped in seven.

In other boys basketball action:

Kent-Meridian 73, Jefferson 65: D’juan Miller led four Royals in double figures scoring with 17 points as Kent-Meridian (1-1) knocked off Jefferson (1-1). Barenton Ahmed added 13 points for the Royals while Jordan Thompson Walker chipped in 12 and Sergio Arroyo collected 11.

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