This was in Kent at the ShoWare Center, not the Tacoma Dome. And it was for the 4A South Puget Sound League title, not the 4A state title.
But top-ranked Federal Way’s 63-61 win over No. 2 Curtis on Thursday felt every bit like one of those early March state tournament games. Just ask the defending state champions.
“I mean, yeah,” Federal Way’s D’Jimon Jones said.
“It did. It gives you that atmosphere,” Eagles coach Jerome Collins said. “Curtis did a great job. Their kids played hard. It was a good challenge. It was good for us because we needed to be in competition and understand what it is to execute down the stretch.”
Curtis (19-2) had two chances in the final 14.7 seconds to tie the game, but Federal Way point guard Marcus Stephens, who transferred from Curtis after his freshman year, stole the ball from John Moore.
Then Jones blocked Glenn Jordan’s shot in the final seconds after Stephens missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free throw.
It was the closest game Federal Way (21-0) has played all season. Curtis led 20-6 in the first quarter while the Eagles were trying to figure out how to guard Aushanti Potts-Woods, who finished with 26 points, seven rebounds and three blocks before fouling out.
“We did a lot of things we wanted to do, it just didn’t quite work out,” Curtis coach Tim Kelly said. “Hopefully we’ll have a shot at them again.”
Potts-Woods had 19 points in the first half.
Nothing Kelly hasn’t seen.
“I see that all the time,” Kelly laughed. “But he is pretty good. … He wants the ball in his hands, he wants to take the shot and he believes he is going to make it. All of us believe he’s going to make it.”
But when Curtis, which plays Kentwood at 4 p.m. Saturday at Auburn Mountainview for either the second or third seed out of the 4A SPSL to the West Central District tournament, took that 14-point lead, Jalen McDaniels quickly responded with a bucket and Jones hit a 3-pointer.
That sparked a 19-2 run for Federal Way, which included the Eagles taking a 21-20 lead on another Jones 3-pointer.
McDaniels had 18 points (including a two-handed alley-oop dunk off a fast break), eight rebounds and four blocks. But he fouled out with 2:18 remaining.
Curtis, which had previously lost only to Roosevelt of California in the semifinals of the Under Armour Holiday Classic, then responded with back-to-back buckets from Jordan and Moore off turnovers to cut it to 61-60.
But Federal Way wouldn’t let Curtis capitalize on its two late chances, trailing by two after Stephens’ basket and Jordan’s free throw. The Eagles haven’t lost since Jan. 19, 2015, against Bellevue.
“There were some loose balls we didn’t get and we talked about it in there — when you’re playing someone good like that, it comes down to one possession and there were a couple times that should have been ours that they turned into easy baskets,” Kelly said.
“They have blown everybody out and they were in a battle and we had our chances to win, too. Two best teams in the state, supposedly in the rankings, and that’s how it went.”
Kentridge 64, Puyallup 42: The Chargers scored 26 points in the fourth quarter to defeat the Vikings and secure the fourth seed out of the 4A SPSL.
Kentridge’s Joran Ticeson scored a game-high 21 points with 16 rebounds.
Puyallup will play Thomas Jefferson High School on Saturday for the fifth seed to the West Central District tournament. The loser will fall to the sixth and final seed.
No. 3 Todd Beamer 55, No. 10 Curtis 31: There was most certainly something said about the Titans’ 23-0 lead after the first quarter. And maybe a hint of aggression from losses to 3A powerhouses Bellevue and Lynnwood.
“We learned a lot from those two losses,” Todd Beamer coach Corey Alexander said. “We wanted to come out and make a statement. Make a statement that Todd Beamer is ready to play.”
Makenna Woodfolk had 16 points and nine rebounds for Beamer (18-2), and Nia Alexander, the coach’s daughter, had 15 points.
“The energy is so high,” Woodfolk said. “We’re competing. We know our only competition is us against each other in practice, and we’ve been going at it.”
Kentridge 39, Puyallup 26: The Chargers held the Vikings under 30 percent shooting for the game as they secured the fourth seed in the SPSL conference tournament.
Morgan Gary, Brooke Ziegenhagen and Tresai McCarver all tied for the team lead in scoring with eight points each.
Staff writer Lucas Shannon contributed to this report