They could have been called the “Showtime Eagles.”
The Federal Way High School boys basketball team put on a show in the open floor Thursday against South Kitsap. Turnovers were a highlight play waiting to happen, and the Eagles forced 25 of them.
Viont’e Daniels, D’Jimon Jones and Jalen McDaniels each had dunks, with McDaniels catching a pass from Daniels near the right block and throwing it down with his right hand around a defender. The top-ranked Eagles scored 35 points off Wolves turnovers en route to an 81-54 first-round victory at the 4A West Central District 3 tournament.
“Once we get out in the fast break, things start opening up,” said Daniels, who controlled nearly every phase of the game with 18 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and seven steals. “We are very dangerous.”
And not just when forcing turnovers. Missed baskets, blocked shots … any excuse to get out and run, Federal Way (19-2) took advantage.
The Eagles face Gig Harbor, which beat Todd Beamer, 66-65, in the district quarterfinals at 1 p.m. Saturday at Puyallup High School.
South Kitsap’s top scorer, Eric Wattree, who averages 19.7 points a game, was out with the flu, and that put even more pressure on the Wolves’ backcourt against Federal Way’s full-court press.
“Wow, I mean, they are as good as advertised,” South Kitsap coach John Callaghan said. “Our guys gutted it out. I loved how hard we played. But we were overmatched.
“Having Eric would have helped, especially with releasing some of the pressure because he can bring it up, too. We got beat by 30, but we played hard.”
The Wolves got to Federal Way early, hounding Daniels with their diamond-and-one defense — daring the Eagles’ supporting cast to win without him.
And it worked initially. South Kitsap (11-9) led for most of the first quarter before Jones entered. He drained a 3-pointer on his first shot then a two-handed dunk — his first of two in the game — off a Wolves turnover the next possession to put Federal Way ahead, 13-12. Jones finished with 11 points off the bench.
“If there is a sixth-man award, he would be that,” Federal Way coach Jerome Collins said.
The Eagles then ran away in the second quarter, outscoring South Kitsap, 24-7. Daniels sparked the run with a steal and layup, another steal and a spinning assist to Christian Jones for a layup followed two possessions later by the assist to the 6-foot-9 McDaniels for the thunderous one-handed dunk.
“We press, make you get tired and once your legs are gone we just keep coming at you,” Daniels said. “A lot of teams are just going to tire out.”
Aaron Scott scored a game-high 21 points for South Kitsap, which will face Beamer at 1 p.m. Saturday at Mount Tahoma in a loser-out game.
Federal Way pushed its win streak to seven games, with its only losses being to No. 2 Bellevue (3A) and Corona Del Sol of Arizona.
“We definitely want to outnumber you and we want to put the pressure on the ball, get in the passing lanes and get transition buckets,” Collins said. “That’s the way we do it. That’s the way we play.”
And when they do?
“I don’t think there is anybody who can beat us when we play like this,” Daniels said.