What goes up must come down.
Only the Federal Way High School boys basketball team doesn’t appear to be coming down anytime soon.
But Jalen McDaniels sure did. The 6-foot-10 San Diego State signee might have had just a hint of aggression when he thunderously jammed a rim-shaking dunk in the fourth quarter of the top-ranked Eagles’ 78-41 victory against visiting Yelm in the first round of the 4A West Central District tournament on Wednesday.
“It was an energy booster,” said McDaniels, who finished with 12 points despite being triple-teamed at times. “I felt like I was down on myself, and that got me into the game. I was out of it, so I felt like I let out my aggression and anger.”
His younger brother, Jaden McDaniels — a freshman who is a near-spitting image of his brother, a senior — said it still only made the top three of Jalen’s best dunks this year.
Ferron Flavors scored a game-high 19 points, including five 3-pointers, for Federal Way (22-0), which came in ranked No. 23 in the nation by USA Today. The Eagles advance to a winner-to-state game against Timberline at 6 p.m. Friday at Auburn Mountainview.
But it wasn’t all Federal Way.
At least not for the entire game.
Yelm cut its deficit to 18-16 on Christian Davis’ basket early in the second quarter. But Federal Way ended the half on a 14-5 run and outscored the Tornados 29-10 in the third quarter.
Davis, who entered the game averaging 28.6 points, had missed the past three games with an ankle injury. He was held to five points, with credit due to D’Jimon Jones’ defense. Federal Way coach Jerome Collins told Jones to face-guard Davis — much like he might as a cornerback for the Washington State University football team after this year.
But Davis also said he didn’t feel 100 percent.
“It sucked because I just wanted to win this game for everybody,” Davis said. “It wasn’t the same not playing and coming back. I just got to get back to practice.”
Yelm heads to an elimination game against Thomas Jefferson at 6 p.m. Friday at Stadium.
And for Federal Way? Flavors said he still believes there’s room for the Eagles to improve.
“I feel like we haven’t reached our peak yet,” Flavors said. “But we’ll get there.”