FERNDALE - The Ferndale girls' basketball team stared up at a 33-28 halftime deficit, wondering just how Blaine hit two fairly improbable shots at the end of the second quarter to take the lead.
The Borderites glanced up at a 64-52 final score knowing exactly how the Golden Eagles clawed their way back to remain a perfect 5-0 in Northwest Conference play and 10-2 overall.
The inside-outside presence of Linsey Honeycutt and Taryn Knutson sparked a 36-point second half, leading to the win on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at Ferndale High School. Honeycutt led the Golden Eagles with 19 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Knutson finished with 12 points - all of which came beyond the 3-point line - and Brooke Benson and Hannah Carlson added 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Taylor V'Dovec led all scorers with 20 points after going 7 of 13 from the field for Blaine (7-5, NWC 3-2). She also added nine rebounds. Mandy Hayes added 13 points of her own, and Alexis McElwain was the only other Borderite in double figures with 10 points.
Ferndale's nine 3-pointers in the game, including going 3 for 4 in the final quarter, helped distance itself from a Blaine team that never allowed the Golden Eagles to get away until late in the fourth quarter. Add that to the fact that four Ferndale players finished in double figures, and the Golden Eagles' coach, Mike Ivy, saw what a mismatch nightmare his team can be.
"That makes it tough for Blaine," he said. "Who do you stop? If you double-team Linsey, somebody is going to hit a 3. That's going to break your back. Those three seniors (Knutson, Benson and Abby Reid) shooting the ball like that, it's big."
The Golden Eagles quickly made up the five-point deficit coming out of the half after going on a 15-4 run that included 3's by both Benson and Knutson. Carlson also got going in the pivotal third quarter, hitting a pair of free throws while also adding a baseline jumper to give Ferndale a 43-37 lead. An acrobatic driving layup by Hayes on the following possession brought Blaine to within four, 43-39, heading into the final quarter.
A big key to Ferndale outscoring the Borderites 15-6 in the third quarter was less Blaine's fault than it was the Golden Eagles' defensive prowess. The Borderites finished the third 3 of 17 from the field, and they held V'Dovec and Hayes to a combined four points on nine shots.
"We just thought we needed to play better defense," Honeycutt said, "and then in the second half we did that."
Hayes, who entered the game averaging just more than 12 points per game, finished the game going 5 for 19 from the field, and only 1 of 7 from 3-point range. That wasn't a coincidence, Ivy said.
"If she gets open looks, she's going to shoot it," Ivy said of Hayes. "We were switching defenses all the time, going from man to zone, man to zone. ... Let's just switch and see what happens."
Hayes and V'Dovec answered with back-to-back baskets to start the fourth, giving Blaine a 44-43 lead until Knutson hit her fourth 3-pointer of the game to give Ferndale a 46-44 advantage. The Golden Eagles forced a Blaine turnover on the next possession that led to a fast-break layup by Carlson, and after another empty Borderite possession, Reid hit a deep 3 from the elbow to give Ferndale its largest lead of the game, 51-44.
"We were just a lot calmer," Ivy said. "We talk about being calm all the time. When we're calm, we run our sets. I thought we did a good job of doing that today."
Honeycutt finished the game with a pair of free throws and a strong low-post move against McElwain to give Ferndale (10-2) the strong conference win.
Ferndale's offense was not only difficult to guard given its ability to score from both the inside and outside, but because steady ball movement led 12 assists on 23 made baskets.
"I just thought we did really well about swinging (the ball) around, putting it in and kicking it back out and swinging it around," Honeycutt said. "It just picks up our game and makes it easier to get opportunities down low."
Blaine finished 20 of 54 from the field, but just 5-for-16 from 3-point range.
Reach Alex Bigelow at email@example.com or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.
FERNDALE 64, BLAINE 52
Blaine 16 17 6 13 - 52
Ferndale 8 20 15 21 - 64
Blaine: Breanna Chau 6, Olivia Olason 0, Alexis McElwain 10, Mikayla Deming 2, Kjirstin Larson 0, Rhiana Breedlove 1, Taylor V'Dovec 20, Mandy Hayes 13. Team totals: 20-54 6-11 52.
Ferndale: Carly Bannerman 5, Shelby Slaughter 0, Abby Reid 3, Dasia Washington 0, Taryn Knutson 12, Hannah Carlson 12, Brooke Benson 13, Kendyl Puhan 0, Linsey Honeycutt 19. Team totals: 23-47 7-12 64.
3-ptg: Blaine 5 (Breanna Chau, 2), Ferndale 9 (Taryn Knutson, 4). Rebounds: Blaine 28 (Mandy Hayes 9), Ferndale 27 (Linsey Honeycutt 11). Assists: Blaine 5 (Chau, Alexis McElwain, 2), Ferndale 12 (Abby Reid, 3). Fouls: Blaine 10 (NA), Ferndale 14 (Brooke Benson). Turnovers: Blaine 13, Ferndale 13.