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Howard can't duck fame much longer —

Prospect senior narrowly misses setting school record with 46 points

— —

— PROSPECT

-- Prospect High basketball player Keith Howard had no idea he was closing in on 50 points. —

— And the school's single-game scoring record. —

— Howard, a four-sport athlete (football, basketball, baseball and golf) for the Cougars, was locked into a personal scoring zone against New Hope Christian High on Jan. 7 in the Prospect gym. —

— His quick first step to the basket -- which is his strong suit -- seemed to be in overdrive and his shots were falling like the snow outside the venerable Prospect gym this night. —

— It was one of those nights when everything was working, says Howard, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior guard for the Cougars. —

— Despite chants from the frenzied Prospect fans to shoot and drive to the hole (basket), Howard was determined to do one thing above everything else: win. —

— Howard was running and scoring off the Prospect fast break with devastating consistency, shooting holes in the New Hope zone defense, and driving hard to the basket to score on an assortment of layups out of the Cougars' half-court offense. —

— The points came so easily, nobody, not coach Mike Gordon, the noisy Cougar fans in the stands, and not even Howard himself, realized he had passed the 40-point barrier in the fourth quarter and was zeroing in on 50 points as the game wound to a conclusion. —

— I thought I had around 25 or 30, but I wasn't thinking about it, he says. The score was still pretty close, and I was worried about winning more than anything. —

— Prospect ended up winning, 86-73. —

— In the process, Howard scored a career-high 46 points to raise his season scoring average to 19.4 points a game. —

— The game was pretty close, and I had my mind on winning mostly, says Howard, who hit 17 of 24 field goal attempts, 6 of 11 free throws, dished off seven assists, made seven steals and pulled down 11 rebounds. —

— Keith played a great game, but nobody really realized he had as many points as he did, says Gordon. He was doing a lot of things for the team, as he usually does. —

— The following night, Howard came back to score 26 points in a loss to Brighton Academy at Grants Pass. —

— Despite the loss, it sunk in on the bus ride home that he had scored 72 points for the Cougars in 24 hours. —

— His 46-point game stands as No. — on the all-time single-season scoring list at Prospect. Joel Nye's record of 49 points in one game was spared when Howard came out of the game late with the victory in hand. —

— If we had known, Keith probably could have broken that record, says Gordon. He had one 3-point shot (he made two in the game) spin in and out of the basket, and he made 6 of 11 free throws. He could have broken it right there. He usually makes more free throws than that. —

— I'd like to have that record, says Howard. I'd like to finish my career here by getting that. —

— Howard says he'd like to finish his senior year at Prospect by being named an all-conference selection in football, basketball, baseball, and golf. He's already succeeded in that goal in football as an offensive and defensive end. —

— Howard taught himself to play golf by hitting practice balls on the Cougars' football field when he was younger. —

— I love golf, and I'm getting pretty good at it, he says. I'm a little better than a bogey golfer now. I need to play more, and my scores will come down. —

— Since he's already been named to represent Prospect in the Class 1A eight-man high school all-star game next summer, Howard figures his best best chance to play a sport in college would be in football. —

— He has size, athletic ability and good speed, says Gordon, who has also coached Howard in football and baseball. But he's probably most natural in baseball (he's a pitcher and shortstop). —

— Gordon marvels over Howard's blinding first step as a basketball player. —

— It's phenomenal, says Gordon. It's as good as any I've seen in high school. —

— Howard says he will probably attend a junior college next fall to help ease the transition from small high school to college. —

— I hope somebody gives me a chance to play a sport, he says. That will probably determine where I go. —

— Howard has lived in Prospect since the age of 2 with his parents, Debbie and Ron Howard. —

— Howard says he felt like a celebrity after his 46-point game. —

— I've had a lot of people come up to me and congratulate me, he says. One person came up and asked, `How do you score 46 points without being a ball hog?' —

— Howard says, I told him I had seven assists, too.