Viont’e Daniels was feeling it.
His fadeaway baseline jump shot followed shortly by a contested 3-pointer from the left wing in the third quarter let everybody else know.
Daniels finished with a game-high 25 points as the top-ranked Federal Way boys basketball team cruised to a 72-45 victory against No. 8 Curtis in the 4A West Central District 3 semifinals on Thursday at Puyallup High School.
“I was in a rhythm and the shots just kept going in,” Daniels said.
The Eagles (22-2) advance to face Kentwood at 8 p.m. Saturday at Puyallup for a shot to win their first district title since 2009.
Daniels didn’t match the 28 points he scored against Curtis (19-6) in the South Puget Sound League tournament two weeks prior, but that jump shot he had going Thursday was the difference.
“This was probably one of my best shooting games,” Daniels said. “They were giving me the pull-up shot. It was there and I knocked down a couple 3s. I was taking shots in rhythm.”
Federal Way needed it, too. The Eagles turned the ball over on five of their first seven possessions of the game and had 15 total turnovers in the first half.
“Sloppy,” were the first words out of Eagles coach Jerome Collins’ mouth after the game.
Daniels scored eight of Federal Way’s 13 first-quarter points and had seven more in the second quarter, but picked up his third foul with just over three minutes left in the half.
Curtis dictated the pace, got offensive rebounds and was gifted all those Federal Way turnovers, but struggled offensively, making 20 of 66 shots (30 percent) for the game. But Gage Ferguson hit a 3-pointer just before the halftime horn to cut the Eagles’ lead to 29-19.
“I think for a half we did what we wanted to do,” Curtis coach Tim Kelly said. “We were pretty disappointed that we weren’t up or ever closer than that (at halftime). I thought we played to our tempo, played to our pace, we wanted to get on the glass, make them turn it over and attack them. I think we did all those things. We just didn’t take advantage.”
The Vikings cut the lead to eight on two occasions in the third quarter on baskets by Ashanti Potts-Woods and Semaj Booker, who scored a team-high 11 points.
Daniels followed Booker’s bucket with the fadeaway jumper in the corner, then pulled up for the 3-pointer three possessions later as Federal Way’s lead ballooned from 36-28 to 48-28.
“He was very efficient,” Kelly said of Daniels. “The shots that he gets are all good shots. He attacks, he’s good at getting into the lane and going straight up. … Nothing they did was a surprise to us, but you have to make adjustments.”
Curtis will face Kentridge for the third seed out of the WCD to the regional round of the state tournament at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Mount Tahoma.
“We did a lot of things better today,” Kelly said. “No one will know that by the box score, you look at it and we lost by 30, but we were there for an entire half.”
Kentwood (22-2) started the game with a 13-0 lead and never looked back. It can win its first district title since 2003 on Saturday.
“Our guys understood the moment of tonight and getting to a district championship to play Federal Way again,” Ketnwood coach Blake Solomon said. “Their mentality was right, they played smart and executed the game plan.”
The Conquerors outscored Kentridge (18-5) 20-6 in the third quarter, taking a 53-22 lead into the final period.
“I would have rested my guys earlier if I knew that was coming,” Kentridge coach Dave Jamison said. “We had a few good days of practice. Maybe it was a hangover from the fourth quarter against Timberline (in Saturday’s quarterfinal).