The Federal Way Eagles fell to the Olympia Bears by a score of 77-68 at Curtis High School on Feb. 17.
The loss comes as Federal Way’s first in 2023. “When you get to this point in the season, the majority of teams are going to capitalize on your mistakes,” said Eagles Head Coach Yattah Reed.
It was the first in-state loss for the Eagles since the state tournament last year. The one Eagle loss this year was to Perry High School in Arizona.
The game was extremely competitive throughout, but Federal Way trailed for the majority of the game. Something this squad is unfamiliar with.
The first quarter was tightly contested, the Eagles trailed by a score of 20-16. It was a louder environment than some Federal Way players were used to, but Coach Reed said he thought his players played well in the atmosphere.
“We’re just glad it was a great high school atmosphere, two years ago there was no one in the stands … These guys deserve to have that high school atmosphere basketball game,” he said.
What kept Federal Way in the game was their defense. The team was extremely aggressive on the ball and created problems for the Bears. Eagles Isaiah Afework and Vaughn Weems created turnovers and cashed in with dunks in the first half.
But the Bears had an answer for the Eagles. Every time Federal Way crept their way back in, Olympia responded with a run of their own. At the end of the first half, Federal Way trailed once more 36-30.
To open the second half, Olympia jumped out to a quick 10-point lead. The Eagles struggled to secure the ball with needless passes and a strong defensive performance from the Bears.
“I felt like we didn’t handle our possessions very well tonight,” Coach Reed said.
By the end of the third quarter, Olympia hit a trio of three-pointers and took a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter leading the Eagles 59-50.
Federal Way continued to battle, the team showed resilience throughout the entire game. With three minutes left in the contest, the Eagles trailed the Bears by just a single point 63-62. That was the closest Federal Way got to the Bears the rest of the night.
“Our guys showed some resilience tonight,” Reed said.
Olympia went on to win the game and advance to the West Central District 4A championship.
Federal Way is still guaranteed a spot in the state tournament, the only negative is a loss on their resume. A resume that is still impressive with quality wins up and down their schedule.
The Eagles are going to use this game help to them move forward and learn from their mistakes, Reed said.
But, Reed added, it’s important to also understand there were positive moments as well. “We will go back, look at film and watch what we have to focus on,” he said. “But at the same time, I thought we did a few good things as well.”
The Eagles take on Camas in the third-place game Saturday, Feb. 18 and the Eagles know that from here on out every opponent is the caliber they saw against Olympia.