By CASEY OLSON, The Mirror
Usually when a team is awarded the second-place trophy, there are tears of disappointment.
There are usually no smiles, no laughing and definitely no high-fives.
That wasn’t the case for the Federal Way boys basketball team Saturday night. Far from it.
After getting dismantled by the unbeaten Ferris Saxons, 68-44, in the Class 4A state championship game inside the Tacoma Dome, every Eagle player was proud to hoist the second-place trophy. It was the highest-ever finish by the basketball-rich school, which has produced a pair of NBA players — Michael Dickerson and Donny Marshall.
“We did something that nobody else has done at our school,” said junior guard Andre Barrington. “That’s nothing to be mad about.”
The good feelings after Saturday’s game were mainly because the Eagles weren’t even supposed to be playing in the state title game — at least according to the experts.
Federal Way (21-7) finished fourth in the eight-team South Puget Sound League North Division and Decatur dropped them into the loser’s bracket in the first round of the West Central District Tournament. The loss forced the inexperienced Eagles to win three-straight games at districts to even qualify for the state tournament.
Quite a ride for Federal Way.
“We knew it was possible,” said senior Aaron Broussard, who was named first-team, all-tournament after averaging 20.3 points a game. “We had a long talk and we knew that we were in this still. We knew we were a good team.”
At the state tournament, the Eagles beat three higher-ranked opponents on their way to the championship game. Federal Way started its run with a big-time upset over Franklin Wednesday. Franklin was the odds-on favorite to play Ferris for the title. The Eagles then knocked off the No. 3-ranked, West Central District champion Lincoln Abes in the quarterfinals before downing cross-town rival Decatur in the semifinals in the game of the tournament.
But Ferris (29-0) was just too good Saturday.
The top-ranked Saxons became the first Class 4A school to complete back-to-back undefeated seasons and have won 58-straight games, which is the second longest streak in state history. Only the 82-game streak by Class B Brewster (1974-77) is longer.
“There’s a reason why they are undefeated,” said Federal Way head coach Jerome Collins. “They are smart with the basketball. They are smart with their cuts. They know each other.”
Ferris overwhelmed Federal Way in the first half while building a 37-14 lead and never trailed in the game. Saxons’ guard Erick Cheadle even hit a half-court shot at the buzzer.
The Eagles, who looked a little awestruck by the unbeaten Saxons, made just 6-of-24 shots in the first half (25 percent) and only 1-of-10 from behind the 3-point line.
Ferris, on the other hand, looked like the juggernaut everybody made them out to be entering state. The Saxons were methodical on the offensive end of the court, hitting 11-of-17 shots (65 percent), including 4-for-4 from behind the 3-point line. Ferris also made 11-of-12 free throws and outrebounded Federal Way, 16-8, in the opening half.
But it was the Saxons’ defense that was even more impressive. Ferris held the Eagles scoreless for nearly six minutes in the first quarter, and made every shot Federal Way attempted a tough one.
The second half was a little better for the Eagles. In fact, Ferris only outscored Federal Way, 31-30, during the final two quarters. Federal Way scored baskets on its first three trips down the court to start the third quarter.
“They didn’t drop their heads,” Collins said. “They came with some intensity, some emotion. If some shots would have fallen, it could have been a different game.”
Ferris was led by a dominating inside performance by the 6-foot-8 DeAngelo Castro, who scored 18 points and had eight blocks. But it was the steady play of senior forward Jared Karstetter that made the difference.
Karstetter, who has signed with Washington State to play football, was named the tournament’s most valuable player after scoring 15 points in the championship game. Erick Cheadle finished with 17 points on 5-of-5 shooting from 3-point land and Jeff Minnerly chipped in 12.
Broussard, the Eagles’ only senior starter, led Federal Way with 12 points. Isiah Umipig and Andre Barrington each had nine during the championship game.
The Eagles shot 29 percent for the game and made six of their 29 3-point attempts.
“They should be really proud of their season,” said Ferris coach Don Van Lierop.
“My hats off to these kids,” Collins said. “They are great kids in the classroom and they work hard and play together. Our guys really accepted their roles and I’m just proud of them.”
The future looks ultra-bright for Federal Way. Losing Broussard will be a huge hit for Collins. Broussard was a monster all season for the Eagles, leading the team in scoring and rebounding. He has already signed a letter of intent to play at Seattle University in the fall.
However, Federal Way will return four starters, including 6-6 sophomore Cole Dickerson, Barrington, Umipig and the clutch guard play of Jeff Forbes.
“We’ll be back,” said Collins. “See you next year.”
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, email@example.com