They know defense in Enumclaw. Hornets stun previously unbeaten Federal Way, cut nets for district title
BY TJ COTTERILL
Enumclaw had nothing to lose.
But to win – that was something.
“We had no pressure, we just wanted to beat them,” Enumclaw’s sophomore guard Peter Erickson said. “We have lost every single year to them. It’s big.”
Kaden Anderson, for the record, called it last week.
“I said it last time,” Anderson said, shortly after cutting down a piece of the net in Puyallup High School. “It feels good, though. Really good. I’ve never had anything like that. It’s crazy.”
Anderson scored 21 points with 13 rebounds, Erickson scored 18 with a flurry of 3-pointers late and 10th-ranked Enumclaw upset No. 3 Federal Way, 53-44, on Saturday to hand the Eagles their first loss this season.
And it gave Enumclaw its first district title since 2010 and first 4A West Central District title since 1931, according to the district program. It also won 3A district titles in 1990, 1980 and 1976.
But consider how the Hornets did this one.
Federal Way had been averaging 83 points per game entering the 4A West Central/Southwest bidistrict title game, and 86 points per game in the playoffs. The Eagles were 24-0 behind one of the nation’s top 2019 recruits in 6-foot-9 Jaden McDaniels.
And Enumclaw held them to a season-low 44 points.
“It’s not like we were scared of them,” Erickson said. “We’re just as good as them and we showed tonight that we could beat them.”
It was their third meeting of the season. Federal Way ran away in a 56-42 win on Dec. 14, but had to pull away in meeting No. 2 on Jan. 17 for a 52-45 win. Keep in mind, Federal Way has scored at least 100 points in five games at least 90 in nine games.
That 52-point game was Federal Way’s previous season-low for points in a game until Saturday.
“They’re so talented. We were happy when we held them to 56,” Enumclaw coach Terry Johnson said with a chuckle. “We thought that was an accomplishment.
“We’ve been defending well all year.”
Yeah they have. Enumclaw has allowed more than 50 points in just 10 of its 25 games.
And that all started when Johnson took over before last season. He made Enumclaw buy into tough defensive play – and it helps when seven players on Enumclaw’s basketball team were also members of Enumclaw’s league-title winning football squad.
“He just got us to work as a team and really just got us to get after it on the court,” Anderson said. “A big part of what we do is defense, and that’s the first thing he ever told us.”
Federal Way led for most of this one, until Erickson’s corner 3-pointer with 6:26 to play to put the Hornets ahead 41-38. It came about a minute after McDaniels, who scored 18 points, picked up his fourth foul and went to the bench.
“It changed the game,” Federal Way coach Jerome Collins said of McDaniels’ foul trouble. He’s our go-to guy. But it’s happened before and we’ve had guys come off the bench and fill in and tonight we didn’t get that.”
So Federal Way coach Jerome Collins quickly subbed the 4A NPSL Olympic’s co-MVP (which he shared with Anderson). But by that time Enumclaw had stolen the momentum and didn’t look back.
The Hornets (20-5) went on a 14-4 run after McDaniels picked up that fourth foul with 7:31 to play. The daggers were Anderson’s put-back and two possessions later he finished an and-1 for a 47-40 lead.
“I give them credit, they are physical and they disrupted us,” Collins said. “It’s one of those basketball nights – even when we did a good job of executing and getting open shots it was like there was a lid on the basket. We just didn’t have it, and that’s going to happen.”
Erickson, a sophomore, had the task of guarding McDaniels most of the game.
“You’re not going to stop somebody as talented as Jaden,” Johnson said. “But part of it was what was best for the team, and part of it is our belief in Petey and how much he’s grown as a defender and how much confidence we had in him. Jaden had to earn everything and that’s all we ask for.”
And Erickson hit three 3-pointers in the second half, while Anderson scored 11 points in the fourth quarter.
They’re not the young, wide-eyed team they were last year leading Enumclaw into the Tacoma Dome.
“We’re a lot more confident now,” Erickson said. “Last year we were so young. We had never been there. Last year we made it, but this year we had a higher expectation to go ever further. Not just get there, but win.”
This win had moved Enumclaw up to the No. 7 spot in the WIAA’s RPI rankings, which would mean the Hornets were guaranteed a spot in the Tacoma Dome and would play against Skyview in the regional round of state for a shot at a bye into the state quarterfinals – if the RPI rankings hold through Saturday night.
And Federal Way had the No. 6 spot – so it is also guaranteed a place in the Tacoma Dome. And it would play a rematch against Union, which Federal Way beat, 82-62, in Wednesday’s district semifinals.
All Johnson knows is their next game will be packed with Enumclaw fans, just like Saturday’s championship was.
“Enumclaw is a special community,” he said just after stepping off a ladder and taking down the net. “You’ve seen our student section and I don’t think there’s anybody that has that type of support we’ve had – even on our first week in a mid-winter break, and we have that many kids showing up. And it’s been like that all year.
“I was so happy for our guys to have that experience and I’m so happy for our school and our community and those kids (in the stands) because they’ve been right along with us.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
Enumclaw: Kaden Anderson 21, Griffin Webb 2, Bryson Engebretsen 10, Kellen Kranc 2, Peter Erickson 18.