Girls Basketball: Heen a reliable force

The Balers' Callee Heen has proven to be a strong player on the basketball court.

Callee Heen moved to the top of the key only to see no Salinas defender around her. The situation repeated moments later, and both times the San Benito High senior drained a 3-pointer. When Heen wasn’t connecting on shots from the outside, she was mixing things up and getting physical in the paint.
And when the senior forward wasn’t grabbing rebounds, she helped keep the team’s offense moving with crisp passes and setting solid screens while playing solid defense. Heen did all those things in the team’s 57-30 win over Salinas on Feb. 4. Heen is the glue to the San Benito High girls basketball team’s success, providing leadership both with her play and her voice.
“I need to lead and help the team jell together,” she said. “When you’re a senior, you have to start taking care of the other girls on the team, especially the younger ones. I try to give advice when I can, show them the rules and make sure everyone gets along.”
The Haybalers enter Thursday’s game against Gilroy at 12-9 overall and 5-4 in league, good for third place in the Monterey Bay League’s Gabilan Division. Heen, who has earned a scholarship to play softball at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, has been nothing short of solid on the hardwood.
Over the years, Balers coach Mitch Burley said Heen is unselfish, possesses a strong basketball IQ and has always been motivated to achieve her potential. Heen finished with 11 points against Salinas, nine of which came on 3-pointers. Even though Heen is a physical presence in the paint, she can stroke it from the perimeter as well.
“If they leave me open, I’ll take the shot,” she said. “I have confidence I can make them.”
If the Balers can repeat their performance against Salinas, they’ll be a lock to clinch a Central Coast Section playoff berth. San Benito connected on 12 3-pointers, including three treys from Heen and five from Jessica Bueno. The Balers started the game on a 19-0 run, and Burley must have thought he was in a dream.
“I think we watched too many Warriors games,” Burley said. “Twelve 3s is a lot. If you add up all the 3s, that would be enough to win, which is kind of crazy. Callee hitting two 3s (in the first quarter), she was on fire.”
Burley was a bit apprehensive entering the game, as the team was short-handed due to multiple injuries. However, those concerns were alleviated from the opening tip, as the Balers jumped on Salinas from the outset.
“I was a little nervous because we had players out and Callee wasn’t feeling well,” Burley said. “But every shot just went in, we got off to a great start and you couldn’t ask for anything better.”
It’s hard to overstate the importance of Heen’s contributions. Heen’s versatility adds a lot to the team, and she has managed to improve in basketball while balancing playing traveling softball. Up until this season, Heen wasn’t known for her perimeter prowess. But Heen has shown an ability to knock down shots from the outside.
“I’ve gotten more comfortable with my shot,” she said. “I’ll usually mix in outside shots in practice with post moves.”

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