Strathmore pulls back to 500 before losing to the Porterville Panthers in their last game of the tournament
By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
STRATHMORE – Jazmine Soto continued her scoring rampage in this early season at home last Wednesday by dropping a season high 24 points in the Spartans 50-32 win over the Firebaugh Eagles.
Soto became an instant sensation last season when she burst on the high school hard courts with her drive-to-basket style, scoring 712 points. In the process she broke the freshman single season scoring record which was previously held by Aarion McDonald at 694 points in 2013.
Over the offseason Soto and Strathmore head coach Richard Miranda have been trying to make her a better leader on the court instead of spending so much time on her scoring.
“Soto has a very high IQ of the game,” Miranda said. “It is just trying to have her get the other girls involved, and trying to make a vocal leader.”
Soto’s best chance to be that leader came gainst the 2017 Division V valley runner ups provided. Her scoring reputation was not a mystery to Firebaugh (1-3) which is why they double teamed her every chance they got. It wasn’t until 2:49 left in the first quarter when she made her first point of the game on a free throw.
As Strathmore (2-2) struggled to keep up, Soto took on the roll of decoy to get the ball into the interior of the key without trying to force the issue by driving to the basket. That didn’t work either as Firebaugh stole two passes and used them to build a 13-5 lead in the first quarter.
According to Miranda, the main focus at practices leading up to the match was to finish strong.
Strathmore did just that in the remaining three quarters. Down 15-11 to begin the second, the Spartans finished with a seven-point run to take a 24-23 lead into halftime.
Soto and Strathmore began to play more aggressively once they had the lead. Three steals by the Spartans including, two of Soto’s team leading eight, led to six points which built their lead to 32-23.
“We are going to have to beat teams who are going to push us and who are high caliber teams,” Miranda said.
Soto now has 790 career points. If she keeps her 19 points a game average, she will surpass the 1,000-point milestone in 12 games which puts the Spartans in their final game at the Arvin Holiday Tournament at the end of the month.
Over the weekend Strathmore hosted the 38th annual George Glover Memorial Tournament. According to Maxpreps Strathmore had a game against the Lindsay Cardinals, but no final score was provided by press time. Strathmore then won 59-14 against the Tulare Western Mustangs. Then on Saturday Strathmore lost to its inner district rival Porterville Panthers 58-38.
Before Strathmore hosts the Parlier Panthers on Friday at 6:30 p.m. they opened up East Sequoia League play last Monday against the Corcoran Panthers.