by Beau Wicker
There’s a classic image of a kid from Indiana spending countless hours on a basketball court perfecting his jump shot.
Caston senior Jacob Howdeshell is the embodiment of that image, said Comet boys basketball coach Ben Snyder.
“He is Jimmy Chitwood,” said Snyder, referring to a central character of the classic film, “Hoosiers.”
“He is the replica Jimmy Chitwood. He’s lived in a gym the last three years. Basketball is right up there on the top of his list, and it shows,” Snyder said.
It does show, as Howdeshell has turned himself into one of the top long-range shooters in the state. The very prolific 3-point bomber has connected on an impressive 52 percent from beyond the arc this season.
He has set and reset his own school record for made 3-pointers in a game multiple times. The record now stands at 10.
Howdeshell, a 5-foot-10 guard, is averaging 17.5 points per game for the Comets this season.
“I have not seen a player improve as much in three years as I’ve seen with Jake,” Snyder said. “He gets the maximum of every ounce he has.”
The Comets are 15-6 this season. They need one more win to match their 16-win total of a year ago, which was their most wins since the undefeated regular season of the 2004-05 season.
“I’m proud of the season we’ve had,” Howdeshell said. “A lot of people thought that with Trevor [Hoover], Allen [Russell], Zek [Kesler] and Trent [Cripe] gone, we’d be left for dead. A lot of people predicted we’d be at the bottom part of our conference. We knew that if we took care of things to the best of our ability, we would prove people wrong. We stuck together as a team and we’ve gotten stronger as the season has gone along. Finally the team chemistry we’ve been looking for has kicked in. We’re looking to have a great postseason.”
The Comets face No. 4-ranked Pioneer (16-3) at 6 p.m. on Tuesday in the first game of the Class A West Central Sectional.
“I’m really not thinking too much going into it,” Howdeshell said. “Honestly, we want to play them in that first game. We can’t avoid them, we’d rather just play them. I know for certain it’s going to be a battle. It’ll be the hardest game we’ve every played. They’re a really good team. I’m not putting too much thought into it. We need to play team basketball, and if we take care of things defensively, we should be in the ballgame the whole game.”
There’s not a whole lot of love lost when the Comets and the Panthers square off. Howdeshell said he’s friends with some of the Panthers off the court, but on the court, not so much.
“When it comes to sports with Pioneer, all the guys want to beat Pioneer so badly. They’re our rival for everything,” he said. “Off the court, I’m friends with [Brandon] Scruggs, [Mitchell] Williams and [Matt] Dorris and those guys. We’ve played football since we were young and played basketball through the years. We’ve talked about starting a Y ball team after the season. Off the court we’re friends, but on the court we see each other as enemies. When we’re off the court, everything’s fine.”
The following is a question-and-answer session with Howdeshell.
Q. Of the sports you play, which is your favorite? Why?
A. Basketball, it has been a huge part of my life in the sense of team building and working hard to get where I’m at. It has made me a better person all around with discipline and hard work.
Q. Do you have any family members who played sports?
A. Pretty much everyone I know of in our family has played sports. Dad played for the Kewanna Indians and Mom was the point guard on Caston’s only girls basketball sectional championship team.
Q. How do you feel you’ve improved as an athlete since you first started playing?
A. My demeanor has improved. I knew that somehow I wanted to play a college sport and worked hard at everything to set myself up for that opportunity.
Q. Who do you consider your biggest role model? Why?
A. My mom and dad who have done everything for me and work hard to give us a great life. Also, anyone who works hard at whatever they want to get.
Q. What experiences have you had in sports have made you the athlete you are today?
A. I’ve went through hard times in the beginning of high school not getting much playing time, but that also made me who I am now because I work hard at things.
Q. What is something that not everyone knows about you?
A. Even though I’m not very good at singing, I sing along with the radio all the time.
Q. What is your favorite memory of playing sports at your school?
A. The camaraderie with my teammates. They do everything for me on the court, all I do is run around and score. I’ve got the easy job. They do everything to get me open and set good screens.
Q. What are your goals for your future? Do you plan on attending college?
A. I have many goals after high school but will keep them to myself until I get there. I also plan on going somewhere to play basketball, probably IUK is where I’d like to play.
Each week during the school year the Pharos-Tribune recognizes an athlete from one of five area high schools. The recipients are selected by each school’s athletic department.