Bensalem senior Haley Keenan is the sixth female in program history to reach the 1,000-point plateau. (Photos provided courtesy of Bensalem girls' basketball.)
Haley Keenan had extra motivation heading into last Tuesday’s SOL National Conference battle against neighboring Harry S Truman. Motivation that went well beyond the fact that the Bensalem senior needed 21 points to reach the 1,000-point milestone.
“Tuesday night was my uncle’s birthday, and he passed away two years ago, so I really wanted to get it,” Keenan said of her uncle Kent Miller. “My whole family was there.
“I knew I needed to get 21, but I didn’t want to overthink and force anything.”
Heading into halftime, Keenan had 14 points, and with two minutes remaining in the third quarter, the senior captain – two shy of the 1,000-point mark - stepped to the foul line to take two foul shots.
“When I had to go to the foul line, I’ve never been more nervous in my entire life,” Keenen said. “Not even when I had to go to the line to win a game. This was the most nerveracking thing.
“Everyone took their phone out and was screaming. I was like, ‘Okay, relax, you’ve got this, take your time.’”
And with phone cameras capturing her every move, Keenan sank both shots.
“After I made the first one, my teammates were like, ‘All right, you got this, relax,’” she said. “They were more excited than me the whole day. They wanted it more than I wanted it.
“I was like, ‘Okay, don’t air ball this, you got this,’ and it went it. It didn’t really hit me until everybody started charging at me. I started crying. Family came down. They were holding balloons and had a sign. It was great.”
Keenan is the sixth female in program history to reach the milestone and the first since Lyric Lewis did it in 2016.
“That’s why it’s so much more special,” Keenan said.
“She’s just a super kid,” Bensalem coach Sheldon Per said. “She’s just a great, great kid. She’s a basketball junkie.
“Her biggest problem is she’s her own worst enemy. If she misses a shot or a layup, she’s harder on herself than I could ever be. When other girls miss, I say, ‘You’ve got to straighten up, you can’t lean away from the basket. Use the boards.’ I don’t need to say that to her. I say, ‘Relax, it was a good shot.’ She’s one of the first kids at practice, and she’ll want to stay and shoot with one of my assistants after practice.”
Assistant Steve Johnson can vouch for that.
“Her work ethic stands out,” the Bensalem assistant said. “The day after a game that she doesn’t particularly think she shot the ball well she will ask to stay after practice to work on her shot. She’s a very hard worker.
“During the summer, she would play AAU and come to summer workouts.”
Keenan has been playing basketball for as long as she can remember, beginning with Valley AA and then CYO for St. Charles. She was one of five seniors on the varsity as a freshman. Three remain – Keenan, Chloe Munyon and Emily Wineburg.
As for her future, Keenan plans to play at the collegiate level with her sights set on a physical therapy major.
“My decision is still very open,” she said. “I’m just looking for a school that wants a player like me and allows me to contribute as much as I can.”
For now, Keenan is enjoying the buzz her milestone created at Bensalem.
“People are calling me H1K – I think everyone is really proud in the school,” she said.
Keenan and her teammates are focused on the singular goal of finishing the season strong and making a return trip to districts.
“We’re working really hard,” she said. “We started off the season really slow, but we’re getting back on the right track. We never gave up. We still have hope – there’s always hope.”