As Federal Way looks to repeat as the Class 4A state champion, the Eagles are keeping an eye on potential challengers.
It would seem that Kentwood and top area big man Joshua Smith would fit the bill, so Tuesday night’s early season South Puget Sound League battle was worth watching.
When the UCLA-bound Smith found Mikell Everette for a layup on a nice pass from the high post, Kentwood had a 2-0 lead.
Unfortunately for the Conquerors, that lead lasted only 35 seconds.
Federal Way (3-0, 2-0 SPSL North) scored 14 consecutive points and remained in command for the remainder of the game – a 63-41 Eagles victory in Kent.
Kentwood made seven turnovers during the four-minute stretch that saw Federal Way take a 14-2 lead.
“We got in a rhythm offensively,” Federal Way coach Jerome Collins said.
Things didn’t get any better for Kentwood when Smith picked up his third foul just 7:08 into the game. He spent the entire second quarter on the bench.
Federal Way built a 38-20 halftime lead and was positioned to cruise to an easy win.
Smith briefly disrupted those plans, scoring six points while Kentwood opened the third quarter with an 8-0 run, cutting the deficit to 38-28.
But Federal Way regained its composure and did not let Kentwood (1-1, 1-1) get any closer.
Kentwood got an added scare when the 6-foot-9 Smith left the game with an injured right knee with 5:39 remaining in the fourth quarter,
“I kind of strained my patella tendon,” Smith said. “I’ll probably get an MRI tomorrow.”
Smith finished with nine points and five rebounds.
While it is early in the season, the win could end up being important for Federal Way. A road victory against a tough opponent is not easy in the round-robin, home-and-home schedule of the SPSL North.
“We looked at it as a big game, as (Kentwood) is probably the second-best team in our league,” Federal Way senior forward Cole Dickerson said.
Dickerson led the Eagles with 18 points, but it was Federal Way’s impressive guard play that set the tone on defense, eventually forcing 18 Kentwood turnovers. Federal Way made seven turnovers.
Senior guard Isiah Umipig scored 15 points and had six assists. Jerry Duckworth added nine points to go with four steals.
Junior guard Tyrell Lewis was impressive for Federal Way. The transfer from Mount Rainier scored 10 points, including a pair of high-flying dunks in transition. Lewis added 10 rebounds and four assists.