Decatur center Les Sessoms elbows his way past an Auburn defender in the Gators’ 86-63 league loss to the Trojans Wednesday at home. The Decatur boys next take on Federal Way High School Friday evening. JESSICA KELLER, the Mirror

Decatur center Les Sessoms elbows his way past an Auburn defender in the Gators’ 86-63 league loss to the Trojans Wednesday at home. The Decatur boys next take on Federal Way High School Friday evening. JESSICA KELLER, the Mirror

FW, Decatur boys open league play with varying success

When the Decatur Gator and Federal Way High School Eagles boys basketball teams face off Friday evening, the game will not only earn the winner bragging rights, it will also help prepare both squads as they move further into the season.

North Puget Sound League play began this week for both teams, although the start went a lot smoother for the Eagles (2-0) as they trounced Auburn Riverside 100-50 in a lopsided victory Wednesday night, whereas the Gators (2-3) lost to an aggressive Auburn Trojan team 86-63.

Eagle coach Jerome Collins said his players have goals for their season, and it starts with focusing on the next game, the next practice, as they come.

“That’s our motto for every day. We just want to improve and get better,” he said.

The Eagles return three strong players in Jaden McDaniels, Etan Collins and Jalen Womack, who are leading the younger players who have moved up from junior varsity.

“It’s an interesting group,” Collins said. “I love their work ethic.”

He said the squad has worked hard this past spring and summer, and with their conditioning and weight lifting in the fall, they have potential.

“I like our chemistry, our unity and camaraderie as a team, and we want to continue focusing on those components,” Collins said. “Obviously we want to be playing our best basketball at the right time of the season, and we’re pushing toward that.”

Ultimately, the team would like to make a state run after missing out on a third consecutive 4A title last year, although Collins said state is meaningless at this point so early in the season.

His team has also had fewer tests than the Gators. They used up four of their non-league game opportunities with a tournament scheduled in Arizona over winter break. That’s why the games this week are so important for the team fundamentally.

In contrast, the past five games have been valuable for Decatur and new coach Jeffery Forbes, although Wednesday’s loss served as a tough lesson for the Gators, who stumbled in the first half but made a respectable comeback in the second. At one point, they trailed the Trojans by 30 points but rallied to narrow but not close the gap.

Forbes said after the game, to beat the Eagles, his team will have to come out strong and maintain that energy through all four quarters.

“We’ve got to play more physically, and we’ve got to play better defense,” he said.

Forbes said his players have shined at moments in previous games like their win over Mount Vernon Dec. 1. Overall, however, without four quarters of energy and a strong defense, his team will suffer.

“We’ve got to bring it,” Forbes said, adding the Gators can’t miss assignments and need to do a better job of boxing out opponents and limiting their opportunities to shoot.

Most importantly, they have to work together on the court.

“We’ve got to be able to play the game together and play as a team,” he said.

Forbes said, win or lose, he just wants his team to keep learning.

“I’m OK with the mistakes as long as they learn from them,” he said.

The Gators will take on the Eagles at 7 p.m. Friday at Decatur.

More in Sports

Vaimauga is dominant force despite deafness

A football player who is deaf is a rarity among the sport; only five NFL players are deaf.

Federal Way Mirror Male Athlete of the Week: Elyas Poore

TJ’s Poore dominates tennis court in first singles.

Federal Way Mirror Female Athlete of the Week: Hailey Still

TJ’s Still scored six goals in recent game against Federal Way Eagles.

Hailey still goes for goals

Thomas Jefferson girls soccer nears playoffs.

Decatur High School’s Tae Hyung Kim, boys tennis, was selected as the Federal Way Mirror Male Athlete of the Week for Sept. 28. Courtesy photo
Federal Way Mirror Male Athlete of the Week: Tae Hyung Kim

Kim leads undefeated season as singles player.

Federal Way Mirror Female Athlete of the Week: Claire Xu

Xu is top point earner in North Puget Sound League.

Federal Way Mirror Male Athlete of the Week: Iava Lui Jr.

Lui Jr. is a leader both on and off the field.

Federal Way Mirror Female Athlete of the Week: Kelsey Yi

Yi aims to return to golf state competition this season.

Federal Way High School alum brings strength, speed to Portland State Vikings

Charlie Taumoepeau has strong season start as tight end for Portland State.

Federal Way Mirror Male Athlete of the Week: Damarion Davis

Damarion scored one touchdown in Thomas Jefferson High School opening season loss.

Federal Way Mirror Female Athlete of the Week: Angel Swamy

As a captain, Angel is always leading by example with her work ethic.

Boy Scouts rebuild Federal Way National Little League fields

Scout to earn Eagle Scout rank upon project completion.