No one can ever fix their lips to say Jaide Howell lacks passion on the court.
Howell wears her heart on her sleeve and it showed in Sierra High School girls basketball team’s final game – a rivalry matchup against Harrison, which they won 53-47 at Thorpe Gymnasium on March 6.
When officials called Howell for a foul in the first half she believed to be a jump ball, she stood with her mouth agape and hands out, visibly perplexed.
Howell briefly looked to the Stallions bench with the puzzled look before Stallions coach Joseph Williams lobbed a succinct message toward the senior.
“You’re alright! Keep going, keep doing you!” Williams said. “She had some questionable calls that took her out of the game but my job is to keep her focused mentally.”
Howell briefly remained in dismay, shook her head and refocused her attention to the game.
The senior said Williams and Sierra’s staff guided her emotions in a positive direction following her transfer from Sand Creek midway through her sophomore season.
“They worked with me way more and talked to me how they should as a player,” Howell said. “Coach Joe helped me grow as a player. He showed me I could play with aggression, but I can’t play with attitude. Aggression will get me far but attitude will get me nowhere.”
Her style also meshed with the players and led to a career-best 12.1 points per game along with 9.6 rebounds this season.
Despite those efforts, along with fellow senior Ariana Reyes, who averaged 11.4 points, 4.9 assists 3.4 steals and 6.2 rebounds per game, the Stallions would miss the postseason.
It was the first time in 17 years the Stallions would miss the playoffs, but Howell and her teammates remained motivated to finish the season.
“I told them to play with some pride and heart,” Williams said. “Set the tone for the younger girls. It doesn’t matter what the record is, just show heart and the rest will take care of itself.”
Howell brought those words to fruition in the second half. The senior had just two points after the first 16 minutes, including 0-for-4 from the line, but refused to end her career in such fashion. She scored 11 points in the second half including eight in the fourth quarter.
“I wanted it real bad,” she said. “I’m a leader on the team so if I want it everybody else will want it just as bad. I had to be smart and be patient with myself. This team has taught me so much.”
Neither squad managed to build a sizable lead in the second half but junior Teani Perryman gave the Stallions a 33-28 lead following back-to-back triples. However, Harrison clawed back to build a 35-33 lead entering the fourth.
The Panthers briefly took a 42-40 lead, but Perryman gave the Stallions their final lead of the contest with a 3-pointer that made it 43-42. Howell scored 7 of the final 10 points for the Stallions to clinch the game.
To make up for her performance at the line in the first half, Howell went 3-for-4 from the stripe in the waning minutes to keep Harrison at bay.
“I’m really proud of the way Jaide played down the stretch,” Williams said. “Beating your district rivals in their gym, their brand-new gym, you hold your head up high.”
Aliyah Parra also added 9 points for the Stallions, Kaylie Mileto poured in 5, Faith Shephard scored 4 and Jasmine Johnson scored 2.
Howell wanted to have a final run in the postseason, but said she’s remains proud of the year the Stallions endured.
“I’m proud of the way we played,” Howell said. “Everyone tried their best and as long as everybody did what they could I can be happy.”