MONON – Maci Heimlich’s first phone call on Monday night went to her aunt.
Heidi Cutter was a freshman on North White’s last, scratch that, only girls basketball sectional championship team in 1993.
That group had company.
At the same site where North White succeeded 22 years ago in a title victory over Twin Lakes, the Vikings upset West Central in overtime on Monday at Tri-County.
For Heimlich, the family ties go extend beyond the gym. Her father, Bryan, is the head coach in his first season. He coached West Central’s boys to sectional titles in 2004 and ’05.
Maci vaguely remembers those days, but she’s been a gym rat ever since and the freshman point guard has added a dynamic that helped the Vikings get over the hump this season. Her 6.9 assists per game rank second in the state among teams that input stats into Maxpreps.com.
Heimlich’s inclusion in the Viking lineup, coupled with Audrey Minix, a sophomore who broke the school’s single-season rebounding record as a freshman last season and is averaging 17.2 points and 11.2 rebounds as a sophomore, provide a glimpse into the future of North White basketball.
Then there’s this.
“Ally (Scott) is a really good defender and she gets a lot of steals,” said Darian Eccles, a senior guard whose 33 3-pointers are second on the team to Heimlich’s 40. “Alyson Myers has a lot of hustle. She’ll dive after the ball. She kind of sets the tone for our defense. Allison Irey comes off the bench. She’s our sixth man and she does pretty well at rebounding and putting buckets in when we need them.”
It all equates to a 16-9 record. Ten wins in their last 12 games. A regional reservation against Kouts, a team North White hasn’t beaten since 2002.
Many of those years were insufferable for the Vikings.
The last time North White finished .500 before this season was 2001-02. The Vikings went 11-11. They would win five games or less in nine of the next 10 years. Jon Laird went 16-26 the previous two seasons before Heimlich took over this season.
With more wins, came a larger fanbase.
“We had a great crowd on Monday night. It was tremendous support from the community and you could tell that they were really rallying behind us,” Bryan Heimlich said. “It gave our girls a great confidence boost having that great crowd. Hopefully we will have that on Saturday as well. The community has supported us really well.”
Regardless of what happens in Saturday’s regional, this season marks the turning of the program. West Central was favored to win its fifth straight sectional. That motivated the Vikings, who lost to West Central 46-28 in December, in their 60-59 sectional victory.
“We lost to them by 18 in the regular season. They were expected to win and no one expected us to win,” Maci Heimlich said. “We were the underdogs and it’s really fun when you are the underdogs. We just said, ‘Let’s go out and do what it takes to win.’ You only have to win by one and that’s what we did.”
Heimlich and Minix will be a tandem to deal with in future seasons. Irey is a freshman who has played in all 25 contests. Another cluster of freshmen and sophomores have found their way into varsity games at times.
The future is bright, but the present is still intact.
The Vikings would prefer to keep it that way as long as they can.
“We knew we had to play our hearts out (to win the sectional) and the way it played out, going to overtime, we hope to carry that intensity into the regional,” Minix said.
Class A Regional
North White (16-9) vs. Kouts (21-3)
Time: 10:30 a.m.
What’s next: The winner plays either Oregon-Davis (17-7) or Fort Wayne Blackhawk (10-13) in the 8 p.m. championship.
If you go: Caston is at 9815 Indiana 25 in Fulton.