There’s a basketball in future of Howland star

Tribune Chronicle file Howland’s Sara Price (20) will play her college basketball at Ball State.

Despite being a star softball player at Howland, Sara Price will continue her athletic career in college basketball. Price, who’s also one of the top basketball players in the area, has good reason to choose the latter over the former.

For Sara, that reason is passion.

“I played travel softball from 4 years old, up until now,” Price said. “My mom asked me, ‘What sport would you die over if you couldn’t play it anymore?’ I told her it was basketball, I just love it more.”

Price said that when she would pitch in her softball games, she would always be on the mound thinking about going and shooting hoops afterwards. For her, the sport always came more naturally to her than softball, and she believed she displayed a greater talent on the hardwood courts.

That talent has been put on display over and over again at Howland, and the success has allowed her to get a number of Division I offers. Ultimately, Sara chose to sign last week with Ball State University.

“I talked to my AAU coach a lot and he told me to keep looking until I found one (a school) that I liked,” Price said. “I got invited to Ball State and I ended up liking the team, the coaches and the way they played the game.”

According to Howland coach John Diehl, the Ball State coaches will play her at the four position, but for the upcoming 2016-17 Tigers girls basketball season, Diehl has decided to move Price to the three-guard spot.

For Price, the move isn’t too difficult, as she says that she frequently played the position in AAU ball.

“I like to handle the ball, when I get the opportunity. I like to drive it outside and shoot a 3-pointer, or drive it inside,” Price said.

In her first three years with the Tigers, Price has been a record-setting player and a double-double machine. She set not only the sophomore and junior single-season scoring records at Howland, but also the overall single-season scoring record with the Tigers, when she scored 563 points en route to a 21.7 point per game junior season in 2015-16.

For Diehl, Sara’s greatest improvement is her intangibles.

“She was a typical freshman, very athletic, but needed to work on her game,” Diehl said. “She put in numerous hours of work to get where she is today. Over this past summer, she really improved on her leadership skills and she’s seeing the floor better.”

Howland made it to the Division II district title game last season, where, as a No. 2 seed, it fell to No. 1 Lakeview, 47-40. For the Tigers to get back there, and beyond, they’ll rely heavily on Price and her leadership.

“Sara has to learn how to carry a team down in crunch time,” Diehl said. “I think she’s really worked on that this summer.”

As for Sara, she also believes that her leadership will be key to her team’s success this year, but more importantly, the maturity that she’s gained in her Howland career.

“My greatest improvement is my leadership and my coachability,” she says. “I was always a hard head. Coach Diehl and I didn’t always see eye to eye, but I learned to trust his opinion and he never gave up on me. As a senior, now I just listen.”