Jazmine Soto, remember the name.
The senior from Strathmore High School solidified her place in the record books Tuesday when she became Tulare County’s all-time greatest basketball scorer.
Soto came into the home game against Selma needing just five points to claim the title from Grant Verhoeven (2009-12 Central Valley Christian) who set it with 2,598 points. She finished with 38 points in the 69-67 win to bring her career total to 2,631 points.
Soto said she was aware she was close to the record but didn’t know how close until the game was stopped early on when she made a 3-pointer to break the record.
“I honestly wasn’t really thinking about the record or anything,” she said. “I knew I was close but I didn’t know I was that close. I just knew as soon as I shot the three, well I knew it was going in because you know. It’s just like the shot. You can feel it. I was surprised whenever they stopped the game because I didn’t know what they were stopping it for.”
When Soto started playing basketball for the Spartans, she had no idea becoming Tulare County’s all-time leading scorer, male or female, would happen. But she’s done that and so much more.
As a freshman, she broke the CIF Central Section’s freshman scoring record with 712 points and then eclipsed the 1,000-point milestone at the beginning of her sophomore year. During her junior year, she became the 25th player in county history to ever score 2,000 points, then broke the Section’s single-season scoring record with 989 points and closed out her junior year with 2,498 points to become Tulare County’s all-time leading female scorer.
Even though she never set out to break records, Soto’s more than used to doing it. But this one is taking its time settling in for her.
“After the game, like once I went home it kind of hit me and I was just like, ‘I’m the record holder now,’” she said. “And I was just thinking about it and it’s crazy. Like coming into high school, I know I’ve said this before, I didn’t really think that I’d break all these records or anything. For me, it’s just about playing basketball….I know it’s a big accomplishment. I feel like it’ll hit me more once I actually graduate and I won’t be here anymore as a Spartan.”
For Soto’s head coach, Richard Miranda, having the record broken is now one thing to check off for a season many thought wouldn’t be possible.
“It was like a relief for me,” Miranda said. “Like OK it’s done, we don’t have to talk about it. She’s accomplished it….I was happy for it. You go back four or five months ago, and this (season) was not even happening.”
After spending all school year believing she wouldn’t have a season, Soto knows that there’s something special about this season.
“I feel like it was meant to be,” she said. “For us, it was meant to be for us to play. And for us to redeem ourselves from last year.”
With one record out the way, she said she’s more than happy to refocus on helping her team defeat reigning, league champion Sierra Pacific (3-3) for the East Sequoia League title and to take another shot at the Central Section Division V title.
“That’s all we talked about since we lost in February,” she said. “Next season we’ll get it back. Next season. And then we almost didn’t have a season but then we did. And now we have more games than any other team that’s playing, so we’re really fortunate to have all these games. I’m just really anxious and really excited to win Valley. You don’t know how bad I’ve been thinking about it since we lost.”
However, there is one other nagging record that Soto’s keeping at the back of her mind — the section’s scoring record of 2,938 points set by West Bakersfield’s Nikki Blue in 2002.
There’s a chance that Soto could break it, and an even better one if the Spartans go all the way and get more games.
“If I just continue playing hard maybe I’ll get there,” she said. “It’s going to be close. It’s going to be really close.”