By Ashley Mackin
While Senior Night is special for all players on the La Jolla High School girls varsity basketball team, this year’s on Feb. 13 was extra special for senior Sophia Sowers. As an announcer named each senior for her moment of fame, he revealed that Sowers had hit her 1,000th career point.
“It was a nice surprise. I knew I was close to it (going into the game), but I didn’t think I would hit it,” she said of the milestone.
Assistant coach Johnnie Horne said Sowers, daughter of Tom and Brett Sowers, is the third player in La Jolla High’s history to make 1,000 points, and she is one of the top three 3-point shooters in San Diego County.
Since Sowers has been a Lady Viking for all four high-school years, she said, “the long time frame helps in gathering more points, plus, I’m a 3-point specialist, so that means more points. I feel good about hitting 1,000.”
As she should. It’s not easy, considering all the factors working against such an achievement.
First, there’s the time commitment needed to get to that point. “If you play 25 games a season (an understandable average) for four years, that’s 100 games,” Sowers said. “You would have to average 10 points a game, if you play for all four years. Plus, as a freshman, you probably aren’t going to average 10 points a game or be as good as you will be as a senior.”
Secondly, Horne said coaches from opposing teams will work to prevent 3-point shots, while their teams study your strengths and weaknesses, trying to slow you down.
“Every week, coaches from other teams are scheming for you not to make the three,” he said. “So for Sophia to consistently shoot the three, and keep the percent of shots made high, it is a great feat.
“Sophia has always been a hard worker, and through personal training over the last eight months, we’ve re-tweaked her shot to give her a new combination (to set up a shot), so when coaches are scheming against her three, she can still get to the basket, she’s very dynamic. And while her 3-point shot is her strength, we’ve stepped up Sophia’s defense, as well, to make her a more well-rounded player.”
Sowers was able to put those skills to use during the Lady Vikings’ victory in the first and second round of CIF Championship Feb. 25 and Feb. 28, respectively. Sowers and her team competed in the CIF semifinals March 5, with CIF championships March 8.
This year’s tourney marks the first time in more than 10 years that the Vikings made it to CIF — and a particular highlight for Sowers. “I want to win CIF, that would be awesome, and later on I want to play in college,” she said. Though she said she has some natural talent, she also commits a lot of time to practicing, advice she happily passes to others.
“If you love the sport, practice as much as possible because practice is going to make the difference,” she said, adding it’s also important to “find a program that works for you.” In Sower’s case it was playing on boy’s teams when she was younger.
La Jolla Community Basketball Academy
■ For those whose young daughters hope to one day join a high school basketball program, La Jolla High School and The Bishop’s School are collaborating to establish the La Jolla Community Basketball Academy.
■ Lady Vikings Assistant Coach Johnnie Horne said the academy would work with girls (starting at age 5) to build them into strong athletes by the time they reach high school. The academy comes in response to community feedback for such a program, and is planned to launch in May, running Friday through Sunday. For more details, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org