When Crete-Monee coach Christina Cobbins was looking for more assertive offensive play from her forwards earlier this season, she was looking at Marsha Howard.
Howard has answered the call and the junior forward is showing she can assert herself wherever Crete-Monee may need her.
"I try to start the team early and go from there," Howard said. "When the game first starts, energy is high and the adrenaline is pumping. We just break out from there and go strong."
Early in the season, Cobbins felt point guard Lindzy Cox was being relied on too much for the Warriors offense, while Howard and teammates were complacent to wait in the wings.
Lately though, Crete-Monee has been playing a more complete team game on offense, and Howard is taking a more active role.
"I think the girls are really starting to come together and mesh," Cobbins said. "She's a big player for us. I think she shies away from it a little bit sometimes, but now she's really owning it.
"We expect her to do some big things for us this year and for the next two years, actually."
The Warriors are off to a 9-2 start and are 4-0 in the Southland Athletic Conference.
Howard scored 25 points in last Thursday's win against SAC rival Bloom, and she is proving to be a scoring threat. The Warriors still pride themselves on tenacious defense, and Howard is joining in as well.
"We're being more aggressive," Howard said. "I'm trying to be a motor for my team and pick it up when we need to."
Howard knows she has to keep attacking every chance she gets.
"Me and Ashley (Henry) tend to have smaller girls on us," Howard said. "We just have to keep attacking the boards, keep filling the lanes and pushing the ball. Just staying energized."
Cobbins has high praise for her junior forward.
"(Howard) is a beast. She plays extremely strong, she plays extremely hard," Cobbins said. "She wants to win, and that's her motor. She'll do whatever it takes to win, and she's a heck of a rebounder.
"She's excited to be a big part of what we're doing. I think she's accepting her role now."
Howard hopes her Warriors are up to the task of making a run at state.
"I'm looking forward to going as far as we can possibly go," she said. "Just win, but maybe go downstate with my team and keep playing ball."