AOY: Small School Girls Basketball - Larissa Knight

DREW NASH • TIMES-NEWS Times-News athlete of the year for small schools girls basketball is Larissa Knight Friday afternoon, March 21, 2014, at Hagerman High School.

By David Bashore

HAGERMAN — Coming into the 2013-14 season, Larissa Knight was well within striking distance of Hagerman’s all-time girls basketball scoring record.

But she was still something of a one-trick pony.

That changed before the season. So did ownership of that school record and perhaps the fortune of the Hagerman basketball team, which put together a memorable regular season.

“This year I tried to make myself a little more diverse,” the Times-News small school player of the year said Monday. “In previous seasons I was a lot more of (just) a 3-point shooter, and this year I tried to work my way in so I could get to the free-throw line. And that’s where I scored a lot of my points.”

Now able to pull up on defenders or blow by them to the basket, Knight provided a dueling matchup nightmare for Hagerman opposition — both she and 6-foot-4 forward Aly Sauer could beat defenses as easily on the block as they could from the perimeter.

Knight played point guard to start the season, with Hayley White out. Once White returned, Knight stepped back into the scoring guard role and took over games regularly.

As long as the key trio could stay on the floor, Hagerman looked almost unstoppable as it entered the 1A-I state tournament with a perfect record. But in the first game at state, Knight found herself rooted to the bench in foul trouble, and the offense sputtered without its talisman.

“It was pretty miserable,” she said, no elaboration required.

Hagerman went 1-2 at the state tournament, coming home without a trophy. But the context of personal success and achieving smaller but still nice goals, albeit none with a colored Idaho coming back to Hagerman, takes the sting away at least a little.

“It definitely helps to have that goal that as reached. The biggest thing for the season that I take away was that we were undefeated in the season and district champions, even though I didn’t carry over to the state tournament the way we wanted to,” said Knight, who next week will sign to play collegiately at Western Wyoming Community College.

“It was a great season to be able to have that with my teammates. It’s more fulfilling when you have other people who can enjoy that success with you. It was really hard on everyone to have those losses, but it was such a great experience. I was just glad to be able to carry that for the younger girls who haven’t had that much success and got to experience it.”

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