By Kevin Brown Herald Writer
TACOMA — If the Stanwood Spartans were going to upset the No. 1-ranked team in the state, they needed to do three things, coach Zach Ward said.
One, keep the taller, more athletic Federal Way Eagles off the boards. Two, take care of the basketball. And, three, “play with a lot of energy.”
While the Spartans struggled mightily in the first two areas Wednesday, there was no doubt they accomplished the latter.
“I can’t question Stanwood’s effort today,” Ward said following his team’s 64-44 loss in the first round of the Class 4A boys basketball tournament at the Tacoma Dome. “Our kids played really hard. Federal Way probably got close to our best effort (of the season).”
Effort, though, couldn’t make up for the advantage the Eagles enjoyed in size and quickness.
Led by 6-foot-7 senior Cole Dickerson, who will play next season at the University of San Francisco, the Eagles out-rebounded the Spartans 43-31, with 22 of their boards coming on the offensive end.
That, along with the 21 turnovers committed by the Spartans, resulted in the Eagles attempting 20 more shots than Stanwood (63-43).
Eight of Stanwood’s turnovers came in the first quarter, helping Federal Way jump to a 20-9 lead. Ward said his team may have been a bit star struck early on up against the in-your-face pressure of the defending state champs. “They knew who they were playing,” Ward said of the Spartans.
But in the second quarter, Stanwood (16-8) seemed to adjust to the speed of the game and the glare of the Tacoma Dome lights. A 9-2 run early in the period cut the difference to 24-16. Senior wing Kale Schmidt kept the game from being a rout in the first half, scoring 12 of his team-high 18 points.
The Eagles (24-2) found the energetic, 6-foot-3 Schmidt so bothersome that he was a topic of discussion in their locker room at halftime. After using a variety of players on him in the first half, the Eagles decided to go solely with 6-3 junior Tyrell Lewis.
“I thought Tyrell did a great job fighting through screens, fighting over the top and not giving him any good looks,” Federal Way coach Jerome Collins said.
With Schmidt held to six points in the second half, Stanwood relied on center 6-4 post Zach Johnson, who scored nine of his 16 points over the final two quarters.
“Johnson in the middle is a load,” Collins said. “He caught us on his hip a couple times and he made us pay.”
But while Johnson and Schmidt were their All-Wesco selves, the duo needed some help. Other than Schmidt and Johnson, no one on the Stanwood roster tallied more than four points. “We have to have another scorer step up to win games,” Ward said.
Lacking a third scoring option, Stanwood trailed 38-23 at halftime and got no closer than 13 points in the second half.
Federal Way was led by Dickerson’s 24 points and the 20 of point guard Isiah Umipig, who has signed with Cal State Fullerton.
“We are going to go as far as those guys take us,” said Collins, whose team plays Gonzaga Prep in today’s quarterfinals. “They are the cornerstones, the foundation of what we do.”
Stanwood plays Auburn, a 65-33 loser to Gonzaga Prep, at 9 a.m. today in a loser-out game.
“The first thing we did when we came in (the locker room) was forgot about (the loss),” Stanwood’s Johnson said. “It was kind of hard, but you can’t dwell on it because you have a game tomorrow.”
At the Tacoma Dome
Stanwood—Garcea 0, Jamieson 0, Haugstad 2, Reinecke 0, Schmidt 18, Harris 0, Cook 0, Schroyer 2, Johnson 16, Youngren 0, McCune 4, Taylor 2. Federal Way—Lewis 4, Umipig 20, Duckworth 3, Miller 0, Tucker 0, Butler 0, Jones 3, Christopher 8, Williams 0, Dickerson 24, Wade 0, Foosby-Fields 2. 3-point goals—Schmidt 3, Umipig 2, Duckworth 1, Jones 1, Dickerson 1. Records—Stanwood 16-8, Federal Way 24-2.