TACOMA — The energy, the intense defensive focus and the unselfishness were apparent. So, was the togetherness.
The fifth-seeded Federal Way boys basketball team made sure they brought it. They might not look like the super-athletic Eagles teams of the past, but they are together.
Senior Jaylen-Wes Williams led four players in double-figure scoring with 18 points as Federal Way used a balanced attack to subdue 12th-seeded Battle Ground 78-57 on Wednesday in a Class 4A state tournament loser-out opener at the Tacoma Dome.
Federal Way coach Yattah Reed hopes the school’s streak of placing at state can grow to six years in a row despite the lack of a superstar player and their usual bevy of highfliers.
“I mean, we’re about a McDonald’s All-American short,” Reed joked of not having Jaden McDaniels, now a freshman at the University of Washington. “I don’t know if we’re under the radar. We could be under the radar. There are great teams this year. There’s great teams that are playing good ball right now. Maybe we are under the radar, and we just want to be consistent each year.”
The Eagles entered through the backdoor and they might sneak back out of it with a shiny big trophy if they continue to play the way they did to open state. Federal Way has won three state crowns with the last two coming in 2015 and 2016.
“We share the ball,” said Williams, who had three three-pointers, four assists and two steals. “When everybody’s touching it, one through five, we’re all just sharing and we all look good.”
The Eagles never let Battle Ground big man Kaden Perry take over. Perry, a 6-foot-9 junior committed to Gonzaga, still managed 26 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots but all after the Eagles had taken control. Federal Way set the tone early with solid defense that led to easy transition baskets and the trend continued throughout.
“We knew Kaden was a real good big man, dominant, so we came in looking at their non-shooters so we could sink in and double him, so he doesn’t have any easy look,” Williams said. “He obviously did his thing still, but we made it a hard game. Coach Reed has taught us that you can’t win the game with just one man. It’s one through 12. With our bench energy and everybody touching the ball, we win.”
Federal Way (24-5) face third-seeded Mount Si (23-4), last season’s Class 4A state runner-up, in Thursday’s state quarterfinals at 7:15 p.m. The Eagles took third last season and second in 2018.
Battle Ground finished 15-11.
The Eagles shot 57 percent from the field, 62 percent in the second half with solid team play. Peter Erickson tallied 15 points, including all three of his three-pointers and scored 13 points in the first half. Jared Franklin and Bradley Graham chipped in 12 points apiece.
Federal Way blew the game open with 19-4 run in the second quarter, thanks to a trio of three-pointers within a span of 2 minutes, 13 seconds. Suddenly, a 19-14 Eagles’ lead ballooned to 38-18 as Jaden Call sandwiched a three between two Peter Erickson trifectas.
Battle Ground got 12 points and eight rebounds before halftime from Perry, but it wasn’t near enough as Federal Way beat the Tigers in the transition and 53.6-percent shooting from the floor.
The last time the two teams met, Federal Way dropped the Tigers 82-58 on Feb. 13, 2014 in the Class 4A West Central/Southwest bi-district tournament first-round game.