In her third season, Strathmore guard Jazmine Soto breaks the Tulare County girls basketball scoring record
STRATHMORE – Jazmine Soto has accomplished more than most high school basketball players can imagine. And she has done it in only three years.
In just her junior season, she has broken the Tulare County record for most points scored in a career. Which stood for 23 years. Fondly, the record was previously held by former Strathmore Spartan Devon Della.
Soto scored 42 points in a game at Corcoran last Monday in order to break the record of 2,254 points. The Spartans won 63-43 meaning that she almost outscored the entire Panther team while scoring 67% of her team’s points. Soto was one-point shy of her career-high, which is also the school record that she set in a game last season against Reedley. The junior guard was also several points away from her mother’s career-high of 49 points, which she set in high school.
“I got the athletic ability from her, she was a really good basketball player,” Soto said. “But I got my competitiveness from my dad. He’s a hard-working man and always tells us to never give up. Our last name is something that no one could ever take away from us so we have to represent it.”
Soto credits her parents as playing a dynamic role in her drive to succeed. They’ve been to every game and she always knows exactly where they are sitting. Both parents have instilled in her the ambition and motivation to keep getting better.
“My dad watches ESPN all the time and when I come home we’ll just sit on the couch and watch together,” she said. “He’ll be breaking different things down to me and then I just try to perform it on the court.”
While her parents have instilled the necessary skills, Soto is now trying to do the same for her younger siblings.
“My little brothers told me they want to play basketball, and they look up to me. That inspires me to be the best role model I can for them,” she said. “I want to be one of the first people in my family to graduate from college and give my little siblings something to look forward to.”
While basketball may be the avenue she uses to pursue a free college education, Soto is a gifted athlete that plays a variety of sports. Throughout high school she has played volleyball, softball, and ran track. In middle school she even participated in sports with boys such as baseball and football. Her blazing speed allowed her to make a name for herself.
“I feel like that helped me a lot because [the boys] are supposed to be stronger and faster but I looked just like one of the guys out there.”
As she is approaching her final year of high school sports, Soto will likely just focus on basketball. She was battling through various injuries and head coach Richard Miranda helped her realize the importance of body maintenance. That message has become even more true during this current season. The team lost several players due to injury including senior captain Kaija Ambriz. At one point, they were only playing with seven players before bringing up two freshmen. Since Ambriz was the other starting guard, Soto has been forced to play an even larger role than before.
“Coach Richard says that I have to lead and carry this team, but it has taught everybody else that they have to step up,” she said.
Coach Miranda said that her scoring has increased by several points and she is now averaging 29.5 points per game, 6 rebounds, and 5 steals. Her high steal numbers are a credit to her basketball IQ, something that both Soto and Miranda say is her best attribute on the court.
“I can tell when a girl is going to make a pass just by looking at her, and then I can time it and get the steal,” she said.
Strathmore is 24-4 before playing their final regular season game tonight, Wednesday, Feb. 12 against Lindsay at 6:30 p.m. They’ll likely have a high seed in the Division V valley playoffs.
Despite the historic season she’s having and the numerous records she has broken, Soto does not dwell on those feats. She says that the best part about this season has been the bond built between her teammates which is tighter than any team she’s been a part of. That will serve them well for the future as the current starting lineup will likely carry over into next season, meaning that they could possibly see even better results than this year.