State basketball: Federal Way, Umipig win OT thriller over Gonzaga Prep; Jackson next in semis

Federal Way senior point guard Isiah Umipig takes the ball to the basket during the Eagles
Federal Way senior point guard Isiah Umipig takes the ball to the basket during the Eagles' 64-44 opening-round state tournament win over Stanwood Wednesday at the Tacoma Dome.
— image credit: Casey Olson/The Mirror

It was a game that the Federal Way Eagles weren't supposed to win.

Second-ranked Gonzaga Prep (24-3) had the Eagles right where they wanted them. The Bullpups held a commanding eight-point lead with just 4:10 left in the game and Federal Way's state player of the year, Cole Dickerson, was sitting on the Eagle bench after fouling out.

But senior point guard Isiah Umipig wasn't willing to accept losing Thursday night inside the Tacoma Dome in the Class 4A State Boys Basketball Tournament quarterfinal.

The Cal State Fullerton-bound Umipig converted a coast-to-coast layup with eight seconds left in overtime to give the Eagles an improbable 60-59 victory over the Bullpups. The lead was Federal Way's first since late in the third quarter.

"I knew I was going to take the shot," Umipig said. "I wanted the ball in my hands. I wanted to attack while they were still trying to recover and I drove and finished.”

But Umipig’s overtime heroics were only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to clutch shooting by Federal Way Thursday. The biggest shot of the night actually came off the hand of reserve guard Jerry Duckworth. The junior buried a baseline 3-pointer at the buzzer in regulation to send the game into overtime.

“We ran shooters to both sides and I wasn’t open,” Umipig said. “So we got him the ball and he knocked it down.”

Duckworth’s 3-pointer was necessitated after Gonzaga Prep guard Parker Kelly calmly sank two free throws with 7.1 seconds remaining to put the Bullpups up by three.

The defending state-champion Eagles took on Jackson High Friday night (after press time) with a berth into the championship game on the line.

“It was an emotional game,” said Dickerson, who finished with 16 points. “I didn’t want that to be my last game in high school. I knew Isiah was going to pull through. I saw it in his eyes. He just took our team on his shoulders and carried us all the way to the win.”

After Dickerson fouled out, Umipig took over the game. The 6-footer tallied the Eagles’ next 10 points to cut Gonzaga Prep’s lead to one with 1:55 left in regulation. Umipig finished with 24 points.

“Our first option is Cole, because he’s so diverse with his moves,” said Umipig. “When he went out, I knew it was all on my shoulders. I just took it and went.”

The Eagles (25-2) were in total control of the game. Federal Way used an 8-0 run that spanned the second and third quarter to take a commanding 34-22 lead.

But that’s when the Bullpups and all-state forward Ryan Nicholas exploded on a 20-1 run that turned their 12-point deficit into an eight-point lead. Nicholas, who has signed with the University of Portland, finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

“They are a great team,” Umipig said. “This is the best 16 teams in the state. But this is my senior year and I wanted to keep playing. We still have a chance at our main goal.”

Federal Way 64, Stanwood 44 (Wednesday)

The Eagles bounced back from their loss to Lincoln in the West Central District championship with a resounding 64-44 win over Stanwood Wednesday morning.

Like they have been all season, the Eagles (24-2) were led by their big two in their opener inside the Tacoma Dome. Dickerson finished with 24 points and nine rebounds and Umipig chipped in 20 points and four assists.

“We are going to go as far as they can take us,” said Federal Way head coach Jerome Collins. “It’s really good to see them come into their own. We really rely on them.”

The first quarter against Stanwood was back and forth with the Eagles clinging to an 8-7 lead.

But that all changed very quickly. Federal Way erupted on a 12-2 run over the second half of the first quarter, which was capped by a reverse alley-oop from Umipig to Tyrell Lewis.

The Eagles extended the lead to 38-23 at halftime. Federal Way dominated the offensive glass, finishing with 22 offensive rebounds and only 21 on the defensive end. Federal Way also forced the Spartans into 21 turnovers, which equalled into 20 more shot attempts during the game.

Wednesday’s win came just five days after the Eagles let a 21-point fourth-quarter lead slip away against Lincoln in the district title game. The loss was Federal Way’s first of the season to an in-state opponent.

“It feels good to put that loss behind us,” Umipig said. “We were a lot more focused than usual and staying focused really helped us.”

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