The switch goes on and Taylor Farris goes off on another big scoring binge.
More often than not, that switch is flipped by coach Tim White, who senses it’s up to his star guard to ignite the seventh-ranked Renton girls basketball team to another victory.
You might never meet a more reluctant scoring machine than Farris, a four-year starter who said her favorite part of the game is blocking shots, another of her specialties.
“Defense has always been my game,” the 5-foot-11 senior said. “Since last year, I’ve had to pick up my offensive game.”
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That might sound odd coming from someone who averaged more than 21 points last season in leading the Indians to a third-place finish at the 2A state tournament — their first trip back to the Final Eight since the 1987 team lost the 4A championship game to Garfield during Joyce Walker’s senior year.
Farris nearly doubled her scoring from her sophomore season, and was named the Seamount League MVP. So, scoring obviously became more of a priority.
“Not willingly,” she said. “That was coach saying, ‘Look, you need to start taking over.’ ”
Part of the hesitation, she admits, is a fear of perpetuating any notion that she’s a ball hog. It’s a perception she’s heard enough about.
“Throughout my four years I’ve had conflict with people who say I’m all about myself, and that’s not really it,” Farris said. “I’m doing what coach is telling me to do.”
White admits it’s true, and describes Farris as an unselfish player who wants to get her teammates involved. But he’s seen the friction at times.
“Taylor’s the type of player who has a gift in terms of being highly athletic playing basketball,” White said. “But there are some individuals that don’t understand the gift and sometimes they don’t embrace it.”
Taylor’s mother, Sue Farris, has seen and heard that, too.
“She’s still very sensitive about it,” she said, noting Taylor hesitated to even have a ceremony at school when she signed her letter of intent for the University of California-Santa Barbara. “She just wants to win. It’s not about, ‘Oh, look at me, I’m the best player.’ ”
In fact, ask Taylor what she’d like people to most remember about her at Renton and she says, “A hard worker, somebody who always wanted to do the best they could and get as far as they could. And, of course, win.”
While she is scoring just under 20 points per game — and nearly 25 over the past six games — she also averages four assists to go along with 10 rebounds, seven steals and four blocks. And she shoots better than 50 percent from the field.
USCB coach Carlene Mitchell had high praise for Farris when announcing her recruiting class.
“She is one of the best passers UCSB has seen when attacking the paint and in transition,” she said. “Her length leads to countless deflections.”
Farris was an active kid growing up, according to her mom, who played softball and basketball at Newport High School in Bellevue, graduating in 1984.
“She never walked anywhere,” Sue said. “She ran.”
She started playing basketball on a recreational team as a sixth-grader and the coach “saw something” in her, ultimately recommending her to an AAU program, according to Sue.
Taylor fell in love with the game, a passion rivaled only by her affection for food — particularly chicken wings.
She is looking forward to playing at the next level, but first hopes to help Renton return to state. The 10-4 Indians have not lost to a 2A team.
“If we keep playing like a team, I think we could do the same thing we did last year,” Farris said.
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