Ferndale junior Hannah Carlson may be one of the best kept secrets in Northwest Conference girls' basketball.
She's hoping a successful, and healthy, junior season will change all that.
"I noticed her in seventh grade," Ferndale coach Mike Ivy said in phone interview. "She was one of the better players in all of AAU. I had her freshman year, but I had Erika Locker, Madison Hart and Mackenzie Nicolaas. There's no way I could have started her on varsity. She would have started on a lot of teams in Whatcom County."
Carlson is a 5-foot-10 left-handed guard with a sweet stroke from 15-18 feet. As a former post, she's a strong rebounder and has the ability to lock down defenders along the perimeter.
Ivy saw a young talent with all the tools to be a star in the league.
She's just had to wait longer than anticipated to display her skills.
Carlson scored a team-high 13 points the second game of her sophomore year and recorded another team-high 19 points the following game against Sedro-Woolley.
Her season started with such promise, but came to an abrupt stop after she suffered a broken left foot.
"Last year, I was really disappointed having that injury, but this year I don't want to pressure things," Carlson said. "What'll happen, happens. I put in the work in the offseason, so hopefully it shows."
Ivy certainly thinks Carlson is ready to have the banner year she's worked so hard and patiently waited for.
"Hannah is a young, talented girl who will work and work and work," Ivy said. "She is an unbelievable player once we get her to realize it. She wants it so bad. You're going to see one of the top players in the league."
Carlson missed a month - seven games - with her foot injury, and still returned to become Ferndale's second leading scorer. She averaged 7.6 points per game and had scoring outputs of 11, 13, 10 and 15 during the second half of the year. She was an All-NWC honorable mention and learned how quickly her passion for the game can be taken away.
"It was tough, especially with the losses when I knew I could have made a difference," said Carlson of having to watch her team from the bench during the first half of last season. "When we won, I was super excited, but by the time it was healed, I was ready to go. If anything, it helped me regain more passion for the game, knowing I couldn't take it for granted, because I knew it could be taken away."
Not only is Carlson looking for a breakout year, she feels the Golden Eagles have a real chance to make a deep postseason run and earn a Class 3A State Tournament berth.
Ferndale returns its entire starting lineup and has talent deep into its bench. Senior guard Taylor Reid runs the show at point. Across from Carlson on the wing is Koral Weidkamp. Sophomore Linsey Honeycutt is back in the post after her breakout freshman season in which she averaged 10.1 points per game. Senior 6-foot post Kendra Bodger has great experience and is a solid complement to Honeycutt in the frontcourt.
Brooke Benson, Taryn Knutson and Taylor Knutson are just a few of Ivy's strong options off the bench.
"I'm really excited about this team," Carlson said. "We didn't lose many people last year, and I just feel if we are going to make a run or anything, this year will be a solid year to do that. I think we are super strong."
Carlson has been doing her part in the offseason to make 2012-13 a season to remember.
She is deeply rooted into a basketball family. She said her brothers played at Bellingham High School and, although she plays volleyball and competed in track and field last year, the hardwood has always felt like home.
Once she realized her potential to possibly play at the next level, she's been working hard to make her college basketball dream a reality.
Carlson often stays after practice to work on her game with her dad. During the offseason, she'll workout before school.
"During the season, I don't push myself as much," Carlson said. "I save it for the season, but in the offseason, I go in in the morning and shoot an hour or two hours before."
She said she's improved her shot and has worked on being a better leader.
Even though Carlson's first two years didn't go exactly as she hoped, she understood her time would come.
"At first, yeah, it has been a bit frustrating, but it has really taught me patience," Carlson said. "You put in the hard work, you will eventually get the time."
Carlson's time seems to have finally arrived.
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862.
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.