The Timberwolves focused their defense on stopping the McDonald's All-American, but the rest of the Eagles stepped up in the 69-49 win.
PUYALLUP — Still potent for a team that didn’t fire on all cylinders for four quarters.
Third-seeded and nationally ranked Federal Way was more than too much for another in-state opponent.
Jaden McDaniels, a 6-foot-11 senior with all the skills and a national reputation, was the focus of the Jackson defense with constant double teams in the first half, allowing the Eagles to show their depth in a 69-49 drubbing of the Timberwolves on Saturday night in the Class 4A state regionals at Puyallup High School.
Tari Eason, a 6-9 junior transfer from Garfield, picked up the slack inside with 15 points and senior guard Jalen Womack added 13 points for Federal Way (24-2), which is undefeated against Washington schools. McDaniels still managed 15 points after a slow start.
Most Read Sports Stories
- Pittsburgh LB and team captain Cam Bright announces graduate transfer to UW Huskies
- John Stockton’s defiance of COVID-19 mask mandate forces Gonzaga to suspend Hall of Famer’s season tickets
- Gonzaga legend and Basketball Hall of Famer John Stockton draws ire for anti-vaccine comments
- Key dates to keep in mind as the Seahawks navigate the offseason
- Here's how the overtime NFL playoff game between the Chiefs and Bills could have been even better
The depth proved tough for Jackson (18-5) to stop and the Eagles showed why they are ranked No. 18 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 poll. Federal Way throttled off for a couple of stretches in the second after opening a 23-point lead and that’s something it wants to fix for tougher teams down the road.
“We started off really good and our defense was really good, but I think in the second half we died down a little bit,” said Womack, the Eagles’ senior point guard, who had eight of his 13 points before halftime. “We tend to do that.”
Federal Way advances to Thursday’s Class 4A state quarterfinals at 12:15 p.m. in the Tacoma Dome against the survivor of Wednesday’s Mount Rainier vs. Richland loser-out opener. Saturday’s win made the road easier to a state title, but with Gonzaga Prep, a 54-52 winner over the Eagles in last season’s championship, on the same side of the bracket, reaching the title contest will be tough.
“We are going to have to play hard all four quarters,” Womack said. “When we put four quarters together, we are unstoppable, and we are the best team in the state for sure.”
Jackson is still alive and faces a loser-out state opener on Wednesday at 9 a.m. The T-wolves will meet Puyallup (16-8), a 57-42 winner over the Chiawana on Friday.
McDaniels, ranked No. 1 among power forwards nationally in the Class of 2019 by 247Sports.com and No. 5 overall, was slowed offensively early, but finished the first half with nine points. McDaniels deferred early and didn’t get his third and fourth points on free throws until 3:11 remained in the first half.
Eason also tallied eight points before halftime for the Eagles. The focus on McDaniels provided more offensive chances for other players.
“It just opens the game up for everybody,” Eason said of the extra defensive attention on McDaniels. “It allows other people to score easier. Every time he touched the ball, there was a trap.”
Jackson cut a 23-point lead to 60-44 on Joe Capponi’s power move with 5:02 left in the game and there was still a glimmer of hope. The Eagles opened it back up by sinking 8 of 8 free throws in the final 3:58.
“I know everybody wants to see Jaden and it’s Jaden, Jaden, Jaden, but we’ve got 12 dudes who can play,” Federal Way coach Yattah Reed said. “When the focal point is on Jaden, our guys are ready. We practice it and we’ve been seeing it throughout the course of the whole season. What was displayed, those young men do it all the time.”