Knutson brings well-rounded game to Ferndale

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDFebruary 1, 2014 

15 Ferndale-LC GBB

Ferndale's Taryn Knutson, left, drives past Lynden Christian's Kassidy Aldrich for a lay up Jan. 14, 2013 in Lynden. Ferndale beat Lynden Christian 47 to 44.

THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

Before practice on Wednesday, Jan. 29, Ferndale's girls' basketball coach, Mike Ivy, addressed his junior varsity.

He had a message for those who envisioned making varsity one day: Be like senior combo guard Taryn Knutson. Watch her every move.

"I was telling them as a coach, I cannot pull her out of the game because she can do everything," Ivy said. "The more you guys can do for me, the more you can play. ... When you guys are watching the game, go watch her. Go watch how I never pull her out."

Knutson's performance a day earlier against Squalicum reinforced Ivy's point. She finished with 13 points, six assists, four steals and four rebounds. She also held one of the top scorers in the Northwest Conference, Meghan Lowry, to 10 points - she entered putting up more than 15 points per contest.

What Ivy asks of her is to simply do everything. She spreads the floor with her 3-point shooting so the posts have more room to operate. She moves over to play point guard when Abby Reid needs a rest. She does all that while drawing the most difficult defensive assignment, too.

"Everybody says it's because of my long arms and my long fingers," said Knutson of why she's so disruptive on defense. "I think it's important on defense for people to have the mindset that don't let your girl score. Keep them to as little points as possible, because defense is what matters when it comes down to close games."

She relishes the opportunity to draw the toughest defensive assignment, Ivy said, recalling the pregame against Squalicum where he told her she was covering Lowry.

"She just smiles," Ivy said. "(She) makes my job really easy."

Knutson hasn't always been the confident, take-on-anyone type, though.

Ivy didn't promote her to varsity until her sophomore year because, back then, she was just a shooter. Even last year, he said, she struggled doing anything other than shoot 3-pointers.

Ivy pointed to Knutson's maturation within the program - a better understanding of what he and his coaches were trying to teach - as the turning point. It also helped that the outgoing class of six seniors believed in her so much that they voted her one of the team captains this year.

"I think it was unanimous," Ivy said of the vote. "They talked about leadership and hard work and the discipline it takes to try to get to the state tournament. ... She has the work ethic to do that, to get us there."

Knutson has shown flashes over the previous two years of the player she would become.

Never was that more the case than in her sophomore year against Meadowdale in a district playoff game.

There were just six seconds remaining, and the Golden Eagles had the ball with a chance to win the game. Knutson, who had never before graced the court in the final minutes of a close game, was kept on the floor to provide some perimeter shooting late, Ivy said.

Turns out he was right to keep her there.

Knutson hit a corner 3-pointer in a 52-45 victory to end Meadowdale's season, a moment that is still unrivaled in her athletic career at Ferndale.

"I remember Taylor Reid was dribbling down the court, and I was running down the left side of the court, and I'm pretty sure she just made a long pass, and I just shot it," Knutson remembered. "I was thinking it was basically an open court - there wasn't anybody else down there. I was thinking should I just stop, pull it out, wait to swing the ball around and wait to get it to someone with more experience, but I shot it and who knows why?"

Ivy remembered the moment just as vividly, but something else ran through his mind as he watched her hit the 3.

"I was thinking, 'Why didn't I have her up the year before,'" Ivy said.

This year, she's averaging 10.2 points per game, less than both Linsey Honeycutt (17.3) and Hannah Carlson (14.1), but Ivy believes her impact will largely define how far the Golden Eagles make it this year.

And if she continues to affect the game in nearly every facet like she's done so far, it might be a long run, Ivy said.

Reach Alex Bigelow at alex.bigelow@bellinghamherald.com or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.

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