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Originally published February 28, 2010 at 7:56 PM | Page modified February 28, 2010 at 10:31 PM

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4A draw done, Federal Way looks to defend state title | Boys basketball

The Class 4A boys basketball tournament begins Wednesday at the Tacoma Dome.

Seattle Times staff reporter

RENTON — Some coaches would consider a squandered 21-point, fourth-quarter lead in the district title game a teaching tool.

Federal Way's Jerome Collins is not one of them.

"I would rather have a close win and learn from it than a loss," Collins said.

However, despite last week's loss to Lincoln — the team's only defeat against an in-state school this season — Collins is confident the top-ranked Eagles are ready for the boys Class 4A state tournament, which runs Wednesday through Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.

The tournament draws were announced Sunday and the defending champs begin their title defense against Stanwood at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. The Eagles enter the tournament as the favorite in what looks to be a wide-open field.

A first-round win would set up a potential quarterfinal matchup with third-ranked Gonzaga Prep. The Bullpups open the tournament against Auburn at 9 a.m.

"A couple years ago we came through a tough, tough bracket," Collins said. "No one expected it. Last year was a cohesive group and very selfless. This group is pretty much cut from the same mold."

One of the more interesting matchups on Day 1 pits eighth-ranked Skyline against No. 6 Jackson at 2 p.m. This is the second trip to the state basketball tournament for the Spartans but their first as a 4A school. They are trying to emulate the success of their football program.

"We all grew up without much basketball tradition at Skyline," senior Cory Hutsen said. "To be able to start that is great."

For the Timberwolves, the end of the season has been bumpy. Now that they're in, though, coach Steve Johnson said some of the pressure has lifted.

"I think we can play with a little more abandon," Johnson said. "We'll certainly have to play well against anyone, Skyline included."

Check out the complete brackets at www.wiaa.com

Mason Kelley: 206-464-8277 or mkelley@seattletimes.com

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