By CASEY OLSON
There was no Christmas break for the high school basketball programs around Federal Way.
All four schools played non-league games heading into the new year.
And the best of the bunch was the championship game of the Harbor Homes Holiday Classic last Saturday night at Decatur High School. The game pitted the third-ranked team in Class 4A — Decatur — against the third-ranked team from 3A — Auburn.
And in the end, the Trojans were just too much for the Gators. Auburn, the leaders of the South Puget Sound League 3A Division, handed the SPSL South-leading Gators their first loss of the season, 67-63.
Auburn improved to 10-0, and Decatur fell to 10-1.
The game was back and forth for most of the night. Decatur grabbed a 45-42 lead when freshman Jerron Smith hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with seven minutes to play in the fourth quarter.
But Auburn bounced right back, led by junior Jeff Gouveia and senior T.J. Stafford.
Gouveia nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing at the six-minute mark, giving Auburn a 48-47 lead, and on the next trip down the floor, Gouveia drew a fourth foul on Decatur standout Marcus Tibbs. He hit one of the two free throws to put the Trojans up 49-47, and that would be as close as the Gators would get the rest of the night.
Stafford scored the next five points, nailing a 3-pointer from the top of the key and following it with a pull-up jumper to give Auburn a 54-47 lead.
Decatur rallied for four quick points — all by Smith — before Gouveia put the nail in the coffin.
The junior received a pass deep down low, did a double pump and hit the shot while drawing a foul. Gouveia missed the free throw, but Stafford grabbed the rebound and scored on a putback to give Auburn a 58-51 lead.
The Trojans also got a big night from Ryan Snowden. The 6-4 senior scored 16 points in the first half and finished with 21. Stafford was held to three points in the first half but poured in 18 after intermission.
Snowden was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament, which also included Foss and Puyallup.
The Gators had four players score in double figures against Auburn and were led by the 17 points of Darious Walker. Smith chipped in 16, Tibbs tallied 15 points and junior point guard Michael Hale had 12.
Decatur beat Foss, 51-47, in the opening game of the tournament on Dec. 28. Walker led the Gators with 15 points and Tibbs added 12.
In other action:
• The Federal Way Eagle girls won both of their games at the Santa Slam Tournament at Oak Harbor High School on Dec. 28 and 29. The Eagles downed Lynden on the first day of the tournament, 63-55, and won a hard-fought game over Oak Harbor on Saturday, 32-30. The two wins moved Federal Way to 8-3 on the season.
Against Oak Harbor, the Eagles outscored the host team 20-12 in the third and fourth quarters to pull out the win. Freshman Brittany Barrington led the Eagles with 14 points and fellow freshman Talia Walton chipped in 12.
Walton led Federal Way with 20 points during the win over Lynden. Barrington and Briana Bennett both tallied 12 points each.
• The Jefferson girls also moved to 8-3 on the season with a pair of non-league wins during the break. The Raiders downed Bonney Lake on Wednesday, 60-45, and beat Franklin Pierce, 57-46, on Dec. 29.
Against Bonney Lake, TJ used a balanced scoring attack led by the 12 points of Unique Taufa’asau. Jillian Rasmussen chipped in 10 points and Keely Nelson-Rivers and Valerie Voellger both scored nine.
Sofia Malamura had a monster game against Franklin Pierce. The senior finished with 23 points as the Raiders used an 18-8 second quarter to pull away from the Cardinals.
• The TJ boys (5-6) split their two non-leaguers. Roosevelt beat the Raiders, 67-53, in Seattle Dec. 28 and the Raiders blew out Auburn Mountainview Wednesday night, 73-42.
The Raiders had 10 players score at least three points against Auburn Mountainview, led by the 11 points of Eric Radford. Jefferson jumped out to an 18-3 lead after the first quarter.
Guard Michael Hunter led the Raiders with 16 points against Roosevelt, a perennial power from North Seattle.
• The Todd Beamer boys won both of their games at the Seattle Christian Tournament on Dec. 28-29. The Titans (4-7) beat Sumner on Dec. 28, 51-32, and downed Graham-Kapowsin the next day, 60-56.
Senior guard Dakin Wanquist led Beamer in scoring both games. He tallied 17 against Graham-Kapowsin and scored 13 in the win over Sumner.
Alex Hart had 15 points against Graham-Kapowsin.
• The Decatur girls (1-8) dropped a pair of games Dec. 26-27 at the Seattle Christian Tournament. The Gators lost to Tumwater, 54-19, and to Seattle Christian, 55-25.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, email@example.com