How often were games like this – with nine dunks – happening when Marcus Austin was playing Class 1A basketball last year?
Never. Ever,” Austin laughed.
But at 4A Federal Way?
“It’s getting to the point where it’s like normal now,” said Federal Way senior Etan Collins. “We better do it. If we’re not doing that, it felt like we didn’t bring it.”
They brought it on Saturday night against the defending state champs.
Collins scored 22 points as one of five players in double figures in No. 3 Federal Way’s statement 86-52 victory over No. 9 Kentwood at Tahoma High School to clinch the 4A North Puget Sound League title.
And it comes one year after Kentwood ended Federal Way’s 4A state-record win streak at 63 consecutive games in this 4A NPSL title game – before Kentwood went on to win the state title.
These two teams have combined to win each of the past three 4A state titles, with Federal Way’s back-to-back streak ending last year with a loss in the quarterfinals against Richland.
But this team? It’s better.
“We are a better team,” Federal Way coach Jerome Collins said. “We really get at you and we come at you in multiple waves. We are fast and we see the floor and are unselfish.
“We were disappointed in not three-peating and we went to work.”
And so did it’s 6-foot-9 wing Jaden McDaniels.
The junior announced Friday night that he received a scholarship offer to the University of Arizona, to go with offers from Washington, San Diego State (where his brother plays), Oklahoma and others.
Arizona coach Sean Miller and Lorenzo Romar were in town to prepare for their matchup with UW Saturday night. So they stopped by Federal Way’s practice on Friday to offer McDaniels.
That meant a lot,” McDaniels said. “I like the school. I was super excited.”
“They love his length,” Jerome Collins said. “And they love his ability to do so many things.
“I was telling Coach Miller yesterday, I said the one quality that he is very high in is his ability to see the floor. And he can do so many things exceptionally well. We can shoot, score, he can rebound, he can post and he can find the open man. He’s getting so much more confident.”
It wasn’t McDaniels’ best shooting night on Saturday (still finishing with 16 points), but he didn’t need it.
Kentwood had a 7-3 lead to start the game. By the time there were 2:30 remaining in the second quarter, Federal Way had a 35-9 lead.
Just your typical 32-2 run.
Federal Way (21-0) led 46-13 at halftime. It had seven dunks in the first half.
“It’s an igniter to our defense,” said Austin, who scored 14 of his 18 points in that first half. The 6-foot-4 senior point guard played at Seattle Academy last year before enrolling at Federal Way this year.
“It’s sparks the whole atmosphere in the gym,” he added.
And it’s apparently pretty fun when you’re on that end.
“It is,” he laughed. “It’s always fun. Even in practice it’s fun.”
There was some debate over who had the best dunk, though.
There was Austin’s, when Jishai Miller underhanded it to him on a fast break and Austin took off from just above the block and cocked his right-hand back.
Then Etan Collins got a fast break feed from Austin, swooped his left arm out and tomahawked it into the bucket.
But then they saw the replay of McDaniels’ just before the end of the third quarter. He started at the top of the key in a half-court set, dribbled between his legs to his right hand, took his final dribble just outside the 3-point line and two steps later his long legs and arms had jammed the ball into the basket.
“That one!” Austin exclaimed. “That’s a poster. That’s a poster.”
But that wasn’t his favorite of the season. He said that one is the windmill dunk he had against Auburn Mountainview.
“We just came in with a lot of energy,” McDaniels said. “We wanted to redeem ourselves from last year.”
Federal Way remains one of three undefeated teams in the 4A classification alongside No. 1 Gonzaga Prep and No. 2 Richland.
Kentwood (16-5), meanwhile, has lost two of its past three games and three of its past six. D’Angelo Minnis led the Conquerors with 18 points, all coming in the second half.
It will host a first-round game in the 4A West Central/Southwest bidistrict tournament at 7 p.m. Wednesday, in its bid to repeat as district champions. It plays the winner of Monday’s loser-out game between Olympia and Todd Beamer.
Federal Way is on the other side of the bracket, hosting a 7 p.m. game Wednesday. It plays the winner of Monday’s loser-out game between Decatur and Sumner.
“I feel like we are so much better (than last year),” McDaniels said. “We are unselfish and everybody knows their role. I feel like we have a good chance to win it all.”
“I thought we did a great job of focusing,” Jerome Collins said. “And obviously I’m happy with the way we played when we share the ball and how they played so unselfishly. I’m really pleased with our defensive effort, too. That’s a quality ball club.”
NO. 9 KENTWOOD
NO. 3 FEDERAL WAY
KW: Anjaylo Lloyd 5, Darian Hollis 8, D’Angelo Minnis 18, Alphonse Oywak 3, Jahvonta Jones 6, Ryan Wilds 3, Tre’Jordan Fuentes-Williams 8, O’Jhani Jackson 1
FW: Hunter Allen 1, Marcus Austin 18, Jordan Magee 10, Jalen Womack 3, Mykael Henry-Townsend 2, Etan Collins 22, Jaden McDaniels 16, Isiah Hart 2, Jishai Miller 10.