LYNDEN - Ferndale assistant coach Ashley Honeycutt, who was a proud four-year starting post for the Golden Eagles, didn't take the question lightly.
"Yes, I'd say Linsey (Honeycutt) is right about where I was as a sophomore," Ashley said. "I'm really proud and excited over how Linsey is developing."
That's saying a lot, but Linsey proved Ashley's contention as the 5-foot-10 sophomore post had 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds in league-leading Ferndale's 47-44 Northwest Conference victory over Lynden Christian on Monday, Jan. 14.
Both teams performed with the defensive intensity they hope will carry them to strong Northwest District showings, but the Class 3A Golden Eagles (13-2 overall, 7-0 NWC) got to the free throw line just enough times to edge the Class 1A Lyncs (11-3, 5-2 NWC).
The Golden Eagles had to overcome a furious fourth-quarter burst by LC junior guard Sally Vlas, who scored eight of her 13 points in the final period.
The big defensive key for Ferndale was focusing on 5-11 junior guard Courtney Hollander, who was limited to four second-half field goal attempts and made two to finish with a team-high 15 points via 6 for 11 shooting from the field.
Ferndale's other offensive standout was junior guard Taryn Knutson, who made 4 of 7 field-goal attempts in a sixth-man role - including 2 of 3 shots from 3-point range - and 3 of 4 free throws while suffering only two turnovers in 19 minutes in a whirlwind defensive struggle.
"Every time I go home, my wife (Karen) always asks me how Taryn can't start," said Ferndale coach Mike Ivy. "I always tell her, I'm not worried about who starts, I'm worried about who finishes."
Indeed, Knutson played the fourth-most minutes on her team and finished with a flourish, scoring four points in the final quarter.
Knutson's sister, senior guard Taylor, took a pass from point guard Taylor Reid and drove for a layup to put the Golden Eagles ahead for good at 39-38 with 3:40 to play.
Honeycutt scored on a muscle shot with 3:05 left, followed by Honeycutt's free throw at 2:16 and Taryn Knutson's two free throws for a 46-38 advantage with 1:24 left, matching the game's largest lead.
But the Lyncs were far from toast. Vlas scored on a drive, but Reid countered with a free throw with 45 seconds left. Vlas and Kayla Tiermersma each hit free throws, cutting Ferndale's lead to 47-42, and Vlas then stole the ball in a mad scramble underneath the LC basket and muscled in a basket for the game's final points with 12 seconds left.
LC had one final chance to tie at the buzzer, but Vlas had to take an off-balance shot and it wouldn't fall.
"Ferndale is very good," said LC coach Curt DeHaan. "They really ran their transition well. Our kids worked hard ... but we let Ferndale get to the foul line too many times (the Eagles made 11 of 21 to the Lyncs' 8 of 10 and both teams had 16 field goals).
Ivy praised Ferndale senior Koral Weidkamp for her pair of key 3-pointers in three long-range attempts. Kendra Bodger also contributed six points and Reid - who often seemed to be everywhere with her quickness - had a game-high four assists.
LC pressured the Golden Eagles into 22 turnovers, including four steals by Hollander and three by Vlas, and the Lyncs finished with 29 rebounds, including eight by Tiemersma, to the Golden Eagles' 30. Another highlight for LC was a 3-pointer off the glass by point guard Makayla Lancaster early in the fourth quarter.
It was just that close as there were eight lead changes and five ties.
FERNDALE 47, LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 44
Ferndale 10 14 9 14 - 47
LC 7 14 11 12 - 44
Ferndale: Linsey Honeycutt 15, Taryn Knutson 13, Koral Weidkamp 6, Kendra Bodger 6, Taylor Knutson 2, Hannah Carlson 0, Taylor Reid 5, Kodie Euper 0. Team totals 16-41 11-21 47.
Lynden Christian: Courtney Hollander 15, Sally Vlas 13, Makayla Lancaster 5, Karley De Jager 0, Kayla Tiemersma 5, Kara Bajema 4, Kassidy Aldrich 0, Sara Dougan 2. Team totals: 16-50 8-10 44.
3-pointers: Ferndale 4 (Weidkamp 2, Taryn Knutson 2); LC 4 (Vlas 3). Rebounds: Ferndale 30 (Honeycutt 13); LC 29 (Tiemersma 8). Assists: Ferndale 10 (Reid 4); LC 9 (Lancaster 3). Fouls: Ferndale 10 (Honeycutt fouled out); LC 18 (Lancaster fouled out). Turnovers: Ferndale 22, LC 16.