This time, the Curtis High Vikings were prepared for Federal Way’s pressure defense.
And instead of losing their composure and getting beat in transition like they did during a 15-point humbling loss Dec. 11 in University Place, the sixth-ranked Vikings put a little extra on each pass and cut to the hoop with conviction on Thursday night.
It all added up to a 68-62 victory in Federal Way over the fifth-ranked Eagles, giving Curtis (15-1, 11-1 SPSL South) the inside track to the SPSL South Division title.
“We’ve been looking forward to this game,” Curtis coach Tim Kelly said.
That determination and focus showed early as the Vikings led 19-12 after the first quarter. Curtis extended the lead to 41-29 at halftime thanks to Tory Causey, who blocked D’Londo Tucker’s shot and then sprinted down the floor to receive a long outlet pass for a lay-in to beat the buzzer.
“We played hard; we handled pressure better,” Kelly said. “It was important to get back and stop (their) transition (game). They didn’t have any transition (baskets) off of misses.”
Even with star forward Brayon Blake struggling and D’Londo’s brother, DeeShawn Tucker, fouling out early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles were still in the game late.
Adrian Davis hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 4 minutes, 35 seconds left to cut the Curtis lead to 57-53. But the Vikings remained strong and weathered the run, converting 6 of 9 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
“They have good pressure but we stayed with it,” said Curtis senior Dominic Robinson, who scored a game-high 18 points. “This is the best game we’ve
played yet, I think.”
Robinson was a thorn in Federal Way’s side all night, breaking the full-court press with relative ease and keeping the offense running smoothly in the face of pressure. The 5-foot-7 guard also didn’t shy away from contact, hitting a couple of floaters in the lane at key junctures.
“We were just not getting back (the previous game), and they were playing faster than us,” Robinson said. “We couldn’t really keep up with their pace. This time we kind of played (them) like they played us the first time.”
The Vikings also got strong contributions up and down the roster. Jason Williams chipped in with 10 points and three steals off the bench, and Jaurence Chisolm (13 points, six rebounds) and Andre Lewis (13 points, seven rebounds, four assists) also scored in double figures.
“We talked about being focused the entire game,” Kelly said.
Viont’e Daniels led Federal Way (12-3, 9-3) with 14 points, and Davis finished with 12.
“Our (defensive) rotation was poor,” Eagles coach Jerome Collins said. “We were a step slow or a step behind. I give (the Vikings) credit for their execution. We had a lack of execution, and we just never got going.”