By Joseph Staszewski
Finalizing her future has improved the present for Ashlie Howell.
The Christ the King center admitted to be being tentative and concerned about the college coaches’ perceptions as they watched her in the early portion of the season, instead of just relaxing and playing to the best of her abilities. Committing to St. Peter’s has taken all of that away.
“It took a lot of pressure off my shoulders,” Howell said. “Now I get to focus on my team the way I was supposed to be.”
In the game following her commitment Howell dropped in 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to help beat Capital Prep. She followed that up with 15 points and 10 boards in a win over two-time defending state Federation champion Long Island Lutheran Feb. 18. Double-doubles have become a regular occurrence.
“She has been playing tremendously well,” Christ the King guard Sydney Zambrotta said. “She is putting the ball in the basket, getting defensive blocks. She is just playing with a lot of heart. She is the Ashlie that everyone has been waiting for.”
She chose the Peacocks over Mount St. Mary’s because of the connection she made with the coaches and players when she visited in September. The New Jersey school had been recruiting her since they watched her be a major factor in the Royals victory over Archbishop Molloy for the CHSAA Class AA state title last March. That stuck with Howell.
“My dad always teaches me loyalty, so I feel like they have been loyal to me for a long time,” she said.
Howell was also impressed with the commitment they made to improve her game.
“I felt like they can get my game to the next level,” she said. “They actually care about their players and getting them better.”
With Howell’s commitment to St. Peter’s, the Royals now have four players heading to Division I schools next season. Dominique Toussaint, Zambrotta and Kaela Kinder are off to Virginia, Lousville and Virginia Tech respectively. Howell is happy to join her friends in that group and continue their quest for the school’s first New York State Federation Class AA title since 2010.
“It’s very nice,” she said. “So now all the seniors got a Division I scholarship so now we can focus and we get to just keep playing our game.”