Having not played a game in a little more than two weeks, Federal Way High School boys basketball coach Jerome Collins was concerned his team might be a little rusty.
Boy was he ever wrong.
Looking like a finely-tuned machine, the Eagles played the kind of harassing, hard-nosed defense the program is known for while shooting the lights out on offense in a dominant 83-46 road win over Puyallup on Friday night in a Class 4A SPSL South matchup.
“It’s hard to simulate a game intensity, so I was concerned,” said Collins, whose team last played on Dec. 17.
Federal Way (6-1, 5-1 SPSL South) stormed out of the gate with a 6-0 run to start the game — forcing a Puyallup timeout just two minutes in. The three-guard combo of Malik Montoya, Adrian Davis and Viont’e Daniels were at the forefront of the defensive pressure, forcing the Vikings into seven turnovers in the first quarter for a 23-12 lead.
“We wanted to take the life right out of them with a lot of energy,” Daniels said.
The Eagles also took control of the paint on offense, getting to the rim with relative ease for layups. When drives didn’t yield an easy finish or a trip to the free-throw line, the ball was kicked it out to the shooters, who were ready to fire away. Federal Way led at halftime, 46-24, as the guard trio combined for 37 points.
“We knew going into the season, (the trio was) going to have (to) lead us offensively and defensively,” Collins said.
The Eagles’ lead after three quarters ballooned to 71-34 as Federal Way put its foot on the accelerator. Montoya hit three consecutive 3-pointers on his way to 22 points.
“We work on a lot of shooting and a lot of defense, running, conditioning (in practice),” Montoya said. “We just want to win. We all love winning.”
The Eagles hit 12 3-pointers as a team. Daniels hit four 3-pointers, finishing with 27 points. Davis added 14 points, six rebounds and five steals.
“I thought tonight was (Davis’) best defensive game,” Collins said. “He’s got great hands, but tonight I thought he did a great job of putting himself in position to use his hands.”
Senior Anthony Rogers added 12 points — all coming on 3-pointers. But everything came back to the defense, which will likely be the key element for the Eagles if they are going to have any shot at knocking off division favorites Curtis and Todd Beamer.
“We really focus more in the gym on the defense, running all our schemes and our defensive (sets),” Collins said. “Like I told the kids, some nights (the offense is) going to be there, some nights it just won’t be there. If you rely on the offense, you’re going to be in trouble.”
Tony Gutierrez scored 11 points to lead Puyallup (7-3, 3-3 SPSL South).