Jacob Burley and Matt Campo grew up playing a lot of 1-on-1 basketball against each other, developing a close bond in the process. Now the San Benito High juniors are key cogs for a Haybalers team that is looking to rebound from a tough three-year stretch. The Balers entered Thursday’s game against Milpitas with a 2-9 record, and yet Burley and Campo have been consistent contributors throughout the season.
Burley, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound point guard, and Campo, a 6-2, 190-pound power forward, are similar in that they’re willing to compete for every possession and do all of the little things that might not show up on the stat sheet but plays a key role in a team’s success. San Benito High coach Anthony Butler has been pleased with the two first-year varsity players.
“Matt Campo is a guy who has really stepped up so far this year on the defensive side as well as being aggressive offensively,” Butler said. “Jacob Burley has been someone who has impressed us early. His work ethic and basketball IQ is something that is great to see. These guys work hard on the court, but more importantly they are great students in the classroom.”
Burley, who is the son of longtime San Benito High girls basketball coach Mitch Burley, started the season at shooting guard only to make the switch to point guard a couple of games into the season.
“I knew that was my spot and how I could help the team most,” he said.
In the team’s season-opening 68-63 win over Christopher, Burley finished with 14 points, scoring some critical baskets in the fourth quarter and overtime periods.
“In the close games, I love handling the pressure and trying to make the big shots,” he said.
Burley is also adept at shooting from 3-point range and getting to the basket off dribble penetration.
Campo has played solid interior defense while also being strong on the boards. He had 12 points in a 56-46 loss to Wilcox on Dec. 12, starting the game off strong with a couple of putbacks. Campo earns every point he scores, as they usually come through pure grit and effort. Against Wilcox, Campo converted some steals into layups while also slicing through the Wilcox defense for some close-range baskets.
“I play scrappy and try to outhustle the players on the other team,” Campo said. “All I want to do is help my team in any way I can. Mentally, it’s about grinding and playing hard all the time.”
Burley and Campo also grew up playing baseball against each other as members on different teams. They’ve always shared a love for competition, and they know how to play well together on the court.
Burley grew up in the gym and on various athletic fields—literally. With two older brothers (Kevin and Matt) and one older sister (Ellie), Burley watched his siblings’ games while also practicing at the same time.
Kevin graduated from San Benito High in 2008, Matt in 2011 and Ellie in 2013. Burley said growing up with three older siblings helped him develop at a faster pace.
“They were all good siblings, and they were never easy on me,” Burley said. “They never let me win in anything, so that helped me a lot. I was always around them and they helped give me a love for sports. My sister played travel softball, and I went to almost all of her tournaments every weekend. During the winter basketball season, I was in the gym all day.”
Mitch, of course, is the most decorated athlete of the family, having played basketball at Santa Clara University. The younger Burley has done a nice job of following in his siblings’ footsteps while also forging his own identity. Burley prides himself on hustling and never giving up, as does Campo, who credits the San Benito coaching staff for putting him in a position to succeed. Campo is an excellent help defender, always active on the glass and willing to set strong screens.
Burley and Campo can’t wait for the league season to start.
They know it’s going to be a tough road, but they don’t plan on laying down anytime soon.
“I’m really looking forward to league and seeing where we’re at,” Burley said. “I love playing the games where the atmosphere is high intensity.”
Said Campo: “Our goal is to not only win more games, but we want to bring excitement and the crowd back to our home games. We want to have people talking and being excited about our team again.”