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Record-setting Heinz comes up big for Ipswich

Ipswich’s Halle Heinz, left, tries to drive around Aberdeen Christian’s Grace Kaiser, right, during a game at the Aberdeen Christian School gym. Photo by John Davis taken 2/9/2021

IPSWICH, S.D. – She is one of the smallest players on the floor, but Halle Heinz always finds a way to make a big impact. Whether the 5-foot-5 senior is nailing three-point field goals or picking the pocket of opponents, Heinz has left her mark on the Tigers girls’ basketball program.

Heinz has been a member of the varsity squad since her eighth-grade season. While her game has grown since then, for the most part she hasn’t. As a result, Heinz has had to find a way to get her shot off against much taller opponents.

“I knew from eighth-grade year all the way up I was going to have to deal with that, because I wasn’t growing as much,” Heinz said. “Everyone else is taller. I’ve been trying to shape my shot for as long as I can remember.”

Regardless of what special defenses opposing teams throw at her, Heinz manages to put the ball in the basket.

“She’s always had a nice release,” said Ipswich coach Brian Hogie. “That’s something she’s put a lot of time into.”

A big part of that quick release is being able to square up to the basket, according to Hogie.

“She does such a nice job with her footwork,” he said.

As a result, Heinz has become the most prolific long-distance shooter in Ipswich girls’ basketball history. She owns the school record for career three-point field goals, most threes in a season and most threes in a single game (10 against Northwestern her sophomore season).

“It was crazy. I was feeling so high in that game,” Heinz recalled. “At the fourth one and the fifth one, I was like ‘Holy Smokes, what is going on?’ I loved that game. That was a highlight of my career for sure.”

Heinz is quick to credit her teammates for that evening and for many others like it. She said that playing the game is much easier because of them, despite the added defensive focus from other teams.

“I feel like there’s pressure, but then I know that my teammates are there for me,” she said. “We just work so hard together. We’re so close to each other.”

There was one former teammate that was much closer than the others, her sister Kamryn. Heinz credits her older sibling for having a huge impact on her on and off the court.

“I’m so thankful for Kamryn,” she said. “She’s been with me from the beginning and she continues to push me every day. She just makes me a better person and makes me a better athlete.”

While Heinz is known for her deadly marksmanship, she also is a key figure on defense, where she owns the school record for career steals.

“We do a lot of stuff in our two-three zone,” Hogie said. “She does a good job of reading into that.”

Again, Heinz knew she had to find a way to make an impact despite her lack of height.

“I know I’m not going to go over anybody or get a ton of rebounds, so I have to make defensive plays somewhere else,” she said. “You have to take pride in defense.”

Heinz is winding down her high school career, but local fans will still be able to watch her in the future. Heinz has decided to attend Northern State and play basketball.

“It felt like home to me. The community there and the fans they get felt just like Ipswich,” she said. “Coach (Paula) Krueger and Coach (Clint) Neumann, and all of their assistant coaches are so supportive. It was like a no-brainer to me.”

Hogie knows what NSU will be getting in Heinz.

“She shoots the ball; that’s her number one thing,” Hogie said. “When you’re looking at college, you look at somebody who can stretch the defense out.”

While the Ipswich girls’ basketball record book will feature the name Halle Heinz in numerous categories, that is not what she will recall the most when she looks back on her prep career.

“I’m not ever going to remember the wins and losses,” she said. “I’m going to remember how close we were and what the bus rides were like and how much it felt to be like a family at Ipswich. That’s what I’m going to remember, for sure.”

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