Marissa Caballero likes to have fun on the basketball court, but come game time, she’s ready to work.
Caballero, a 5-foot-6 point guard, leads the Columbia Basin College women in scoring (15.9 points per game), assists (3.6) and free-throw percentage (86.2).
The sophomore also is a standout in the classroom, finishing the fall quarter with a 3.69 grade-point average.
“She definitely leads by example,” guard Trew Tucker said. “She’s not one to tell anybody what to do, but she’s a leader with her actions, and she sets the tone for us.”
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Caballero joined the CBC team in 2014 after earning 12 varsity letters at Grandview High School — four each in basketball and soccer, three in softball and one in track.
She averaged 15.3 points a game in her freshman season as the Hawks finished sixth in the NWAC Basketball Championships in Kennewick.
“Last year, I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” Caballero said. “This year, I feel like a leader on the team and I have to help the girls.”
Caballero was named the CBC women’s basketball Athlete of the Month for December. She made the all-tournament team at the Pierce Holiday Invitational in Lakewood and scored 26 points in a loss to Lane at the Chemeketa Tournament in Salem, Ore.
“She’s always been a good point guard,” coach Daron Santo said. “She’s doing everything better, seeing the floor more. Her offensive production is so much more efficient. Just that year under her belt has helped. You can see that.”
It also helps that Caballero is familiar with a lot more of the players on this season’s team. She played travel ball with Holly Ellison (Kamiakin) and Sierra Perez (Pasco). During conference games in high school, she faced Tucker (Ellensburg), Stephanie Gibson (West Valley) and Kendall Sage (Ephrata).
“She was always a really good competitor,” Tucker said. “Whenever we played Grandview, we were like, ‘We gotta watch out for Marissa Caballero.’ ”
How things have changed since high school. Now Tucker and Caballero play together — and they’re roommates, too.
“We get along great on the court and off the court,” Caballero said of her teammates. “It’s nice having that bond with everybody.”
Another quality that unites the players is their desire to improve every game.
Caballero has a hard time being completely satisfied with her play. Right now, she’s focused on becoming a better defender and rebounder. She’s second on the team with 76 rebounds, 58 of them on the defensive glass.
But Santo says her high basketball IQ is also one reason why the Hawks (9-7 overall, 1-0 NWAC East) have the third-highest scoring offense in the NWAC at almost 82 points per game.
“I would say honestly she’s not the fastest or the tallest,” Santo said. “She’s got a great first step. She can shoot the ball. She just knows how to drive and get to the basket.”
And she knows when it’s time to get down to business.
MEN’S BASKETBALL: CBC sophomore swingman Andrew Reddout was named the NWAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Week for his performance last week against Blue Mountain.
Reddout shot 88 percent (15 of 17) from the field to finish with 36 points, and he had 10 assists, eight rebounds and two steals in Saturday’s 104-82 home victory over the Timberwolves.
Reddout ranks fifth in the NWAC in scoring (22.6 points per game), sixth in rebounds (8.8) and second in assists (5.1).