After the his team’s 70-69 win against No. 4 Franklin on Friday, West Seattle interim coach Keffrey Fazio talked with a number of alumni who led him to this conclusion: It might have been the biggest win in the last 20 years for West Seattle.
It was only one of a number of interesting stories to follow this past week — one that saw No. 4 Jackson win without its best player, Lakeside continue its rather impressive start, Shaqquan Aaron light it up for Rainier Beach and Renton take over the No. 1 ranking in the Class 2A ranks.
All of that, plus 4A, 3A and 2A rankings, below in this week’s edition of TFQ.
Reason to celebrate: West Seattle gets program-building win in upset
The situation: Facing Franklin, the fourth-ranked team in Class 3A, West Seattle entered halftime trailing by nine and fell behind by as many as 16 in the third quarter.
Other years, with other rosters, West Seattle may have packed it in.
“We were in a spot that we could have easily gone in a different direction,” West Seattle interim coach Keffrey Fazio said.
After all, it’s already been a strange year for the Wildcats. After just one game, fifth-year coach Donald Watts unexpectedly stepped down to tend to his personal training business. That left Fazio, 29, in charge for the remainder of the season.
The Wildcats had rebounded nicely, posting a solid win against Chief Sealth and playing competitive basketball in three games against California teams in a Las Vegas tournament. But against Franklin, the Wildcats didn’t get off to a good start, and they didn’t appear headed for a good finish.
Franklin led by nine with roughly 4:30 left in the game, but West Seattle whittled away that lead in the final minutes. And, after getting a defensive stop, senior LaTrey Newsome sank two free throws with just three seconds left, giving West Seattle a 70-69 upset win.
“I’ve been there for five years, and it’s by far the biggest win since I’ve been there,” said Fazio, who was Watts’ assistant. “There’s not even really a close second.”
Jimi Martin, a senior playing basketball for the first year, scored 19 points and had 10 rebounds. “He was just a monster for us,” Fazio said.
DeAndre Love, a 6-foot-4 junior, also chipped in 19 points and Newsome, West Seattle’s only player with significant varsity experience heading into the year, had 15 points.
West Seattle sits at 5-5 — 5-4 since Fazio took over — but the Wildcats have enough pieces and are playing with enough confidence to make some noise moving forward.
“The school always hasn’t been a winner,” Fazio said. “Donald and myself, when we got to West Seattle, we were fighting an uphill battle pretty much the whole way with grades or just the lack of an established program. We put a lot of sweat into this program.
“It was a gut-check for a lot of guys after coach Watts stepped down, and a lot of these kids responded in a big way.”
None bigger than against Franklin, though.
No. 4 Jackson wins behind developing weapons in Todd’s absence
In the opinion of Jackson coach Steve Johnson, 6-foot-5 junior Jason Todd is one of the state’s best players. (Jackson, in fact, was selected to the Seattle Times’ preseason third team).
Which is all relevant for this reason: On Friday at Monroe, Jackson’s fourth-ranked Jackson team didn’t have Todd, who sat out with a thigh bruise and could be back as early as this week. And yet, even without their leading scorer, rebounder and one of their better defenders, Jackson pulled out a 54-53 win and remained undefeated at 12-0.
“That was encouraging,” Johnson said. “We didn’t play really well. Monroe outplayed us most of the game to be quite honest with you. We really had to make some hay late to pull out the win.”
The Monroe game revealed the continued development of two key contributors for Jackson. Dan Kingma, a junior guard and the younger brother of former Jackson star Brett Kingma, scored 17 points – his season average – in Todd’s absence.
Kingma also chipped in as a sophomore, but Johnson said he has taken on more of a scoring role this season.
The other player to pick up the slack was Brian Zehr, a 6-foot-4 junior who Johnson and his coaches have prodded to become more assertive. Johnson said Zehr has all the tools – he can shoot, he can post up, he can dunk – but he hasn’t always played aggressively with that talent.
Zehr did just that against Monroe by scoring 22 points just one game after he put up a season-high 23 against Lake Stevens.
“We’ve always thought he had a lot of potential to put up the numbers he has sometimes this season,” Johnson said. “I’m not surprised, but I’m pleased he’s realizing the kind of player we always thought he could be.”
Lakeside’s talented enough to break out of a 20-year slide
Lakeside coach Tavio Hobson knew exactly what he was stepping into when he accepted the Lakeside head coaching job four years ago.
The Lions, who experienced success under Bruce Bailey in the ’70s and ’80s, had fallen on hard times. The last 20 or 25 years had seen Lakeside experience little success on the court.
“I knew it was going to be a huge project when it was hired,” Hobson said, “but I really felt like the pieces were in place for the program itself to be competitive.”
Hobson guided the Lions into the Metro League playoffs in each of his first three years, which is no small feat, but this year Lakeside could make more noise than that. The Lions are 9-1 this season, with their only loss coming against No. 2 Seattle Prep in a nail-biter in the season-opener.
“He’s the motor, the engine,” Hobson said. “A lot goes and comes with him. The good thing about this year as opposed to last year is, we have a lot of other guys to support him.”
And that’s the biggest difference. Isabell is joined by D’Marques Tyson, a 6-foot-5 junior averaging 14.3 points who has refined his offensive and defensive game this year.
Lakeside has all the pieces to make a deep run this year. The Lions are led by veteran guard Tramaine Isabell, a 6-foot-1 junior averaging 16.1 points per game.
“D’Marques is probably one of the most unsung players in the league because a lot of people don’t know about him,” Hobson said. “But he could go anywhere in the league and start.”
There’s also Peter French, a 7-foot-0 senior coming off a season-high 16-point outing in the win against O’Dea. Austin Anderson is a pure shooter, and Isiah Brown is a savvy freshman guard seeing playing time. Plus, there’s Matthew Poplawski, a senior averaging 7.3 points.
“It’s just been slowly and gradually building,” Hobson said.
Lakeside has already defeated Eastside Catholic, Chief Sealth and O’Dea this year, but the Lions will run the Metro League’s gauntlet starting Friday, when they play at Eastside Catholic. After that, in successive games, they play Franklin, Rainier Beach and Seattle Prep.
– Renton ascends to the No. 1 ranking. It’s official: The Renton Indians (12-0) are the No. 1 team in Class 2A. There is no doubt that Lynden, the previous No. 1 team and currently ranked second, is a quality team that will be there at the end of the year. But Renton has proven, to date, that the Indians are worthy of a No.1 ranking. They knocked off solid 4A teams in Kentwood, Roosevelt and Mount Rainier. They beat quality 3A teams in Nathan Hale and Juanita.
– Streaky Ballard keeps rolling. Ballard (8-4) has won five straight games, following a stretch where the Beavers lost three straight. Senior Johnny Verduin is averaging 15.2 points in Ballard’s five-game streak. He averaged 7.7 points during Ballard’s three-game losing streak. Perhaps most encouraging for Ballard is this: The Beavers have won five straight despite their leading scorer, Seth Berger, posting his four lowest scoring totals. Stuart McGeorge, a 6-foot-2 senior, has stepped up and scored in double-figures four times during the streak; he’d only scored more than 10 points once in games before.
– Shorewood is on the cusp of being a top-10 team. Shorewood has won six straight games, including an impressive win against Glacier Peak to kick start the streak. The Thunderbirds have rode 6-foot-9 senior Josh Hawkinson, a Washington State commit averaging 18.8 points per game this season. Taylor Freeman, a 6-foot-1 junior, has also been a key contributor, averaging 14.3 points per game during that six-game stretch.
– Federal Way may be the area’s most dominant team so far. The Eagles have won nine of their 10 games by an average of 32. 8 points per game, an astonishing margin of victory. Federal Way’s only close game thus far came against Union, a ranked team. The Eagles won that game by three. In what has been characteristic of their season, D’Londo Tucker (17 points), Brayon Blake (11), Malik Montoya (11) and Adrian Davis (10) all chipped in for a balanced attack.
– Rainier Beach’s Shaqquan Aaron is hitting his stride. Aaron, one of the area’s most highly prized juniors, has hit a groove. He scored 35 points and hit eight three-pointers in a win on Friday and had 25 and 28 points in his last two games in the Max Preps tournament in California.
1. Bothell (11-0)
2. Federal Way (11-0)
3. Garfield (9-1)
4. Jackson (12-0)
5. Central Valley (9-0)
6. Olympia (8-1)
7. Union (7-3)
8. Richland (7-2)
9. Newport (9-3)
10. Curtis (11-1)
1. Lincoln (9-1)
2. Seattle Prep (10-1)
3. Rainier Beach (8-3)
4. Mercer Island (11-1)
5. Franklin (9-2)
6. Lakeside (9-1)
7. Foss (7-3)
8. Glacier Peak (10-2)
9. Kamiakin (10-2)
10. Mountlake Terrace (9-2)
1. Renton (12-0)
2. Lynden (10-1)
3. White River (10-2)
4. West Valley of Yakima (9-1)
5. Pullman (10-1)
6. Ellensburg (8-2)
7. Mark Morris (8-3)
8. Clover Park (7-5)
9. Centralia (10-2)
10. West Valley of Spokane (7-2)