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Defending state champs ready for another postseason run
This is the time of year the Federal Way Eagles boys basketball program has been pointing toward all season.
Not that their South Puget Sound League North Division schedule wasn't a challenge. It's just that the top-ranked, defending Class 4A state champions have a lot bigger goals for the 2009-10 season. Like adding another state title trophy to the school's display case.
Federal Way's much-anticipated postseason run kicks off Thursday (Feb. 11) at the SPSL Tournament. The Eagles will take on the third-ranked Curtis Vikings at 6:30 p.m. at Kent's Showare Center. The Vikings (19-1) cruised to the SPSL South Division championship.
"We are number one and got to go out and prove that we are number one," said Federal Way senior forward Cole Dickerson. "I'm not too familiar with Curtis. We just need to go in there and play with the same mentality."
The Eagles seem to be firing on all cylinders heading into the SPSL title game. Federal Way and Dickerson blew away Tahoma Friday night in their regular-season finale, 95-39, a night after beating Jefferson, 90-69. The two wins finished a perfect 16-0 SPSL North season for the Eagles.
Federal Way cruised through the North Division this season, winning by an average margin of 27 points in their 16 games. The Eagles' only non double-digit victory was a six-point win over Kentridge in early December.
Thursday's game against TJ looked like it might be another close one. But the Eagles won the emotionally-packed game. The Raiders, who haven't qualified the postseason since 1985, were playing for their playoff lives against Federal Way in front of a packed crowd on senior night. The Raiders would have snared the SPSL North's fifth and final spot into postseason with a win over the Eagles.
But TJ just didn't have an answer for Dickerson. The 6-foot-7 forward torched the Raiders for a career-high 38 points.
"After today's game, we are playing real good," Dickerson said. "In the postseason, we need to kick it into another gear and come together as a team."
The Raiders (10-10, 7-9) used the big-time energy from their home crowd to bolt out to an early 13-9 lead midway through the first quarter on a 3-pointer from senior guard Jeff Brigham.
But the Eagles used one of their patented runs to take over control of the game. Dickerson keyed a 12-2 run with seven points to give Federal Way a 24-16 lead early in the second quarter.
The Raiders, however, didn't go away. An Eric Radford 3-pointer with 2:55 left in the first half tied the game at 33-33. But the Eagles ended the half on a 9-3 run to take a six-point lead into the locker room.
Federal Way's athletes and pressure defense proved too much for TJ in the third quarter. A Dickerson layup midway through the third quarter gave the Eagles a 56-41 lead and Federal Way cruised from there.
"We came into the game knowing that the playoffs are right around the corner," Dickerson said. "We know we need to take every game like its the playoffs. We need to go out and play defense. It all starts on the defensive end."
The Eagles also got 23 points from senior guard Isiah Umipig and 21 from senior Robert Christopher. Brigham led Jefferson with 23 points and senior Justin Lanier finished with 15.
Friday's win over Tahoma was never close. Federal Way jumped out to a 27-9 lead after the first quarter and led 77-23 heading into the fourth quarter. Dickerson, who is leading the area by averaging 25 points, finished with 29 points.
SPSL Basketball Tournament
Thursday, February 11 (at Showare Center)
Game 1: Girls North #2 vs South #2 - 3:30PM
Game 2: Boys Kentwood (North #2) vs South #2 - 5:00PM
Game 3: Boys Federal Way (North #1) vs Curtis (South #1) - 6:30PM
Game 4: Girls Auburn Riverside (North #1) vs Bethel (South #1) - 8:00PM
Friday, Feb. 12
Game 5: Girls South #5 vs North #5 - 6 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson
Game 6: Girls South #3 vs. North #3 - 8 p.m. at TJ
Game 7: Boys Auburn (North #5) vs. South #5 - 6 p.m. at Bethel
Game 8: Boys Kentridge (North #3) vs. South #3 - 8 p.m. at Bethel
Saturday, February 13 (at Showare Center)
Game 9: Boys Auburn Riverside (North #4) vs South #4 - 11:00AM
Game 10: Girls North #4 vs South #4 - 12:30PM
Game 11: Girls Winner Gm 6 vs Loser Gm 1 - 2:30PM
Game 12: Boys Winner Gm 8 vs Loser Gm 2 - 4:00PM
Game 13: Boys Winner Gm 2 vs Loser Gm 3 - 6:00PM
Game 14: Girls Winner Gm 1 vs Loser Gm 4 - 7:30PM
$8 Adults / Student w/o ASB
$5 Student w/ ASB
$3 Senior / Child 12 and under