TJHS senior Nehemiah Madison screens Enumclaw’s Carson Firnkoess for TJ’s Daviaun Gale on Dec. 5. Photo courtesy Kevin Hanson, The Courier-Herald

TJHS senior Nehemiah Madison screens Enumclaw’s Carson Firnkoess for TJ’s Daviaun Gale on Dec. 5. Photo courtesy Kevin Hanson, The Courier-Herald

Federal Way boys basketball opens season with two wins, six transfers

Todd Beamer beats Thomas Jefferson on Dec. 11; Decatur loses by two points to AMV.

For as much talent as the Federal Way High School basketball team has on the court this season, the harmony of working together is lacking, said interim head coach Yattah Reed.

This is Reed’s second season as head coach after former head coach Jerome Collins was placed on administrative leave in October 2018.

“We have a lot of experience, but we don’t have a lot of experience together,” Reed said.

Despite this, the Eagles have already snagged two league wins against Auburn (Dec. 11, 93-81) and Auburn Mountainview (Dec. 5, 68-41).

Top returners to the Eagles include senior point guards 6-foot Bradley Graham and 5-foot-9, Jaylen-Wes Williams, Reed noted. Six-foot sophomore guard Drelyn Decuire and 6-foot-5 senior forward Javan Colombelli-Silva are another two of the Eagles returners.

Last year the Eagles placed third at the WIAA 4A boys basketball state tournament.

Gonzaga Prep, the eventual 2019 boys basketball state champions, beat Federal Way 61-53 on March 1. Federal Way placed third after a win against Curtis 95-67 on March 2.

Federal Way wrapped up last season with a 26-3 record.

This year the Eagles’ line-up is studded with transfers.

Six new members to the team include 6-foot-6 senior wing Peter Erickson from Enumclaw; 6-foot-5 senior forward Jared Franklin from Curtis; 6-foot senior point guard Jaden Call from Stadium; 6-foot-3 senior wing Lamar Johnson from Decatur; 6-foot-5 senior wing Keki Pedebone from Nathan Hale; and 6-foot sophomore guard Julius Casseus from Tyee.

“Then we got a couple of additions that should help as well,” Reed noted about the players new to Federal Way. “It’s a different team … these guys bring different strengths to the team that is … going to help us have success this year.”

The Eagles will shine offensively because “we’re talented at each position,” although if they hope for a repeat state appearance, the team will need to work on their defensive skills, he said.

“Most of [our strength] is just how much they are gel-ing so far,” he said of the players learning to adjust to new teammates. “… Where we’re at in regards of them gel-ing, of them being together and being cohesive, has been positive.”

Todd Beamer Titans

The Todd Beamer Titans basketball team will be led by head coach Brent Brilhante for the eighth consecutive year.

The Titans’ season opened with five losses, but took a turn with a 51-47 win against Thomas Jefferson on Dec. 11.

Last season, Todd Beamer wrapped up with a record of 8-15 and a 66-64 playoff victory against Hazen in January 2019.

TBHS senior 5-foot-10 guard Brycen Dillworth, the team’s single returning starter, averaged 12 points per game last season and upped to 20 PPG in the playoffs. Another notable player — who literally stands with his 6-foot-5, 300-pound stature — is sophomore Division 1 football recruit Malik Agbo.

The Titans will have to focus on improving their defense and getting to know one another on the court, but the team’s speed and agility will help in gameplay, Brilhante said.

This year he said the team has “nothing to lose.”

Thomas Jefferson Raiders

After losing 10 seniors last year, fourth year head basketball coach Sudon DeSuze is looking to rebuild his team.

The Raiders set a school record last year for the largest win margin (76-15) in a game against the Hazen Highlanders and after finishing last season with a 10-13 record and making it to the West Central Districts tournament, the Raiders are “optimistic,” about the months to come, DeSuze said.

In their first four games of the season, the team suffered four consecutive losses.

“We are an inexperienced group,” DeSuze noted.

Returning guard, 6-foot-1 senior Daviaun Gale; returning wing, 6-foot senior Johnny Mendoza; senior guard, 5-foot-10 Adriel Lee; junior forward, 6-foot-3 Andrew Dibble; and senior forward, 6-foot-4 Nehemiah Madison highlight the Raiders defensive-strong lineup.

As for outstanding newcomers, DeSuze draws attention to the sidelines.

“Frank Jackson is our new JV coach and assistant,” DeSuze explained. “He is doing amazing things. [He’s] very engaging, positive and knowledgeable.”

Decatur Gators

The Decatur boys basketball season started with a 67-62 win against Foster on Dec. 2, a 74-62 drop to Auburn Riverside on Dec. 5, and a narrow 54-52 loss against Auburn Mountain View on Dec. 11.

“I got a lot of babies in this group and I have a lot of good seniors in this group. My [sophomore] class is just incredible,” said third year head basketball coach Jeffrey Forbes.

The Gators went 9-13 in 2018-19, and this season will be a continuation of building a culture from last, Forbes said.

Strong on the defense, the Gators have room to grow offensively, Forbes said. To aid in this improvement, Forbes has put athletes in “uncomfortable spots, positions they aren’t used to,” he said, noting that his big character guys play with energy and hustle.

Top returners include 6-foot-2 senior guard Jacob Graham, the Gators’ “big time shooter”; 6-foot senior wing Daniel Hylton; 5-foot-10 sophomore guard Gabriel Martin; and 6-foot-4 sophomore center Nolan Gilmore.

That culture is “the foundation of where we want these guys academically, basketball-wise, and most of all, in the community,” Forbes said.

The players commit to weekly grade checks and study tables, along with overall accountability for classroom attendance.

“In order to be good, you gotta be able to play,” Forbes said.

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Federal Way newcomer senior Peter Erickson follows his free throw at practice on Dec. 3. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

Federal Way newcomer senior Peter Erickson follows his free throw at practice on Dec. 3. Olivia Sullivan/staff photo

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