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Decatur boys basketball remains unbeaten in their orange uniforms | State Notebook

Decatur senior Jordan McCloud sports the Gators
Decatur senior Jordan McCloud sports the Gators' new orange and white uniforms during their win over Davis in the opening round of the Class 4A State Boys Basketball Tournament inside the Tacoma Dome. The Gators finished 5-0 in the orange jerseys, including 2-0 at state.
— image credit: Casey Olson/The Mirror

The Decatur Gators made the most of their new orange and white uniforms late in the season.

The Gators wore the special edition uniforms five times during the 2009-10 season and won all five of those games. Head coach Kevin Olson bought the uniforms after having some money left over. The uniforms are a third option to go along with the Gators' home and away navy blue and gold.

"People say they are lucky for us," said junior guard Terrell Williams. "But we think that we can win in any uniform."

Decatur wore the orange uniforms twice during the state tournament and beat both Davis and Gonzaga Prep. The Gators were "forced" to wear their road jerseys during their losses to Jackson and Walla Walla in Tacoma.

The orange jerseys were debuted during Decatur's win over Beamer in a huge SPSL South win over Beamer in a regular season game. The Gators also won a pair of West Central District game in orange. Orange is the official "spirit color" at Decatur.

According to Wikipedia, orange became the spirit color when a group of students from the class of 1999 wanted to distinguish themselves from others by wearing orange jumpsuits around on spirit days and to sporting events.

Students Andy Mininger, Charlie Gillespie and Kyle Bailey were watching a Syracuse University football game at Danny Odne's house and thought the orange was awesome because of how "loud" it was at events. Gillespie worked at the King County Aquatics Center at the time and had a contact to the laundry service that could provide the jumpsuits.

SPSL North dominates again

For the second year in a row, the South Puget Sound League North Division proved to be the best in the state.

The nine-team division won both the boys' and girls' Class 4A state championships Saturday night inside the Tacoma Dome. The Kentwood Conquerors won on the boys' side and the Auburn Riverside Ravens took home the girls' state championship. The Federal Way boys also finished third.

The same thing happened after the 2009 state tournament when the Federal Way boys won the title, along with the Kentwood girls. Also, on the girls' side, Federal Way finished third and Auburn Riverside was fourth last year, while Kentridge also ended up third on the boys' side.

All-tournament

Federal Way High School's senior guard Isiah Umipig was named to the 2010 state all-tournament first-team Saturday after a very impressive four days inside the Tacoma Dome. Umipig averaged 16 points during the tournament, including 24 during the Eagles' epic win over Gonzaga Prep in the quarterfinals.

Kentwood's Joshua Smith was named the tournament MVP for leading the Conks to the state title. Other first-teamers were Jackson's Brett Kingma, Walla Walla's Gary Winston and Gonzaga Prep's Ryan Nicholas. Federal Way's Cole Dickerson was a second-teamer after averaging 16.5 points.

District vs. the champs

The four Federal Way school district boys basketball teams had a solid season against the Class 4A state-champion Kentwood Conquerors. In total, Federal Way, Jefferson, Decatur and Beamer were 4-3 against Kentwood.

The Eagles beat the Conks twice by an average of 24.5 points, TJ split with them, including a 65-37 win on Dec. 15 and Decatur downed Kentwood at the West Central District Tournament, 60-44. The Conks did beat Beamer in a loser-out, winner-to-state game at districts, 58-39.

East vs. West

Decatur got a solid dose of Eastern Washington basketball during their four-day run at the state tournament. The Gators played the top-three teams from east of the mountains, beating Gonzaga Prep and Davis and losing to Walla Walla.

"All I can say is maybe they are a little more physical," head coach Kevin Olson said. "But that's kind of what happens in playoff basketball."

Gators to 3A

This was Decatur's final appearance at the Class 4A state tournament, at least for the next two years. The Gators will be moving into the 3A division of the South Puget Sound League in the fall.

"It's sad because I'm going to be looking at the (3A) program next year and Decatur's history is going to be blank," Olson said. "But I don't think it's going to be any different. There are still some great teams in 3A, like Rainier Beach and Franklin."

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