De La Salle junior guard TaKiya “TK” Howard headed into the Feb. 5 game against Butler Prep just like any other.
Even though the Meteors came up just short at 44-43 in the overtime affair, for Howard, it was a milestone.
But, she didn’t realize that until after the game.
Howard hit an early wing 3-pointer, which put her over the 1,000 career-points mark for De La Salle.
“I didn’t even know about it until they told me,” Howard said. “The coaches told me after the game. It was a fadeaway 3-pointer, the first shot I made in the game. I didn’t even know.”
Howard, a Beverly resident, is a three-year varsity starter.
Scoring 7 points in a Girls Catholic Athletic Conference (GCAC) crossover loss on Feb. 6 at Mother McAuley, Howard increased her career total to 1,017 points.
De La Salle dropped to 16-14.
With only one senior on the roster, a young Meteors squad has worked consistently to develop over a long season. Howard said she’s dedicated to embracing a leadership role.
“My freshman and sophomore years, it was score the ball,” she said. “Junior and senior year, now it’s more of a floor general. I have to control the court and help so other teammates can score. I can’t just score. I have to do the little things.”
Howard is averaging 13.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.1 steals.
With the finish of this year and her entire senior season still remaining, Howard is also chasing JaVonna Smith’s all-time De La Salle scoring record.
A 2012 graduate, Smith scored 1,139 points.
“You’ve only got four years in high school, so why not make it last?” Howard said. “I have goals I want to achieve, and my teammates and coaches really help me get there.”
Junior Janiece Dawson and freshman forward Heaven Cusic have also played well for the Meteors this season.
Host De La Salle will open the state playoffs on Feb. 18 against Noble/UIC in a Class 3A regional semifinal matchup.
De La Salle Coach John Smith, Javonna Smith’s father, has seen his young Meteors team play well this season, and now he’s looking for that killer instinct down the stretch in games.
“We’re still learning and getting it together,” Smith said. “It’s been up and down, but most of our losses, we need to finish. We’re trying to decide who will be the closer for us down the stretch. That’s what we’re trying to lock in for the playoffs.”