After a bit of a rocky stretch midway through the season, the Federal Way Eagles seem to be back on the right track.
And with the postseason just around the corner, that’s something that couldn’t have come at a better time.
The sixth-ranked Eagles notched their fifth straight win on Friday night at home to close out the regular season, a 68-61 victory over Todd Beamer. The win locked up second place in the SPSL South for Federal Way (17-3, 13-3), which suffered its last loss Jan. 17 to South Division champion Curtis.
“We were on a high (early in the year) and then we hit that wall and hit a valley,” Federal Way coach Jerome Collins said. “It’s going to happen. You don’t want it, but if you’re going to have it, have it then. You can make some adjustments and play your best basketball down the stretch. We’re not all the way there, but we’re a good portion (of the way) there.”
But there was plenty of adversity the Eagles had to
overcome on Friday night. Starting point guard DeeShawn Tucker sat out with a knee injury, and several starters got in early foul trouble. And in a game between two city rivals, things got heated on several occasions.
“I just had to stay strong,” said junior forward/center Brayon Blake of the physical play in the paint. “I just had to stay strong.”
But the Federal Way bench stepped up and the rest of the starters banded together to hold Beamer (15-5, 11-5) to just three field goals in the second quarter en route to a 34-24 halftime lead.
“We viewed it as a playoff basketball game, and that’s what it was to us,” Collins said. “We’re fighting to get back to where we were.”
The Titans, who handed the Eagles a 50-48 loss during the last matchup Jan. 11, made things interesting in the final three minutes. Trey Burch-Manning hit a pair of free-throws to cut the deficit to 57-54 with 2 minutes, 45 seconds left. Beamer made another charge with 28 seconds remaining after Bogdon Bliznyuk hit a 3-pointer to make it 65-61, but the Eagles handled the full-court press and pulled out the win.
“We were struggling to put the nail in the coffin, but we did,” Collins said. “I’m proud of our kids. It’s going to be that way. We hung in there and we made the plays when we had to.”
Blake led the way for the Eagles with 21 points and 13 rebounds; Malik Montoya added 15 points and four steals.
“Our team chemistry has improved (since the loss to Curtis),” Blake said.
Burch-Manning and Bliznyuk each scored 16 for Beamer, which wrapped up third place in the division.