Practice was supposed to be finished by now, but the girls kept playing long after the clock hit pack-up time.
Head coach Mike Neiger isn't that mean. The girls had asked to run practice longer, and with a smile the coach agreed. Must be nice not having to heckle the team about commitment.
Yes, these girls like to play, but they are also veterans who know exactly what it takes to make playoffs. Last year, the girls basketball team went 7-3 and finished second in league. The run ended in the first round of playoffs when the Vikings lost to the eventual state champions, Spring Creek.
After graduating just two seniors, this season is shaping up to be even more promising than last.
"I think there is no reason we can't do better. We have experience from our returners, and with that experience comes a little more knowledge of the game in the little things," Mike Neiger said. "Not just X's and O's, but all the things you can do off each pass or screen."
The team has five seniors, Bailey David, Brooke King, Maddie Brubaker, Melanie Grady and Alisa Caro, who all know exactly what more than X's and O's means.
These girls know how to create offensive opportunities off their tough defense.
It's a tough defense that starts with David, who is also a leading offensive player for the Vikings.
"Bailey is going to be our floor general and bring the ball up. She also runs the offense," Mike Neiger said.
David knows a thing or two about leading a team to state. She was a key leader in the volleyball team's recent state championship run. The senior has endless amounts of motivation and athletic skills to back it up. Last year, as a junior, David led the team with 52 points, averaging almost nine points a game, and went 17-for-26 from the free throw line.
Senior teammate Brooke King will also be a leader for the Vikings this season. She led her soccer team to state before picking up All-League MVP Forward last month. Her soccer speed translates to a major threat on the court. Last year, she used it to put up equally impressive stats. She recorded 44 points and averaged about seven a game.
"Brooke is more of a leader by example. I look for her to do good things, to go to the basket and create opportunities," Mike Neiger said.
Neiger is counting on leadership from all the seniors, and a few juniors as well. -
"It all comes down to knowing the game a little better and having the extra year of varsity experience, especially for this year's juniors who played last year," Mike Neiger said.
One of those juniors would be Hannah Neiger, who as a sophomore was one of the leaders in rebounds last year.
New additions to the team, Ally King and Riley Chapman, are also expected to play a big role in their first year on varsity.
"Riley's always been a really good player, but she had to play JV last year since she transferred from Whittell," Mike Neiger said. "She has really good basketball IQ and court awareness. She knows the game."
Grace Bronken, Kaila Griffis, Shelly Leonard and Chloe Nolan complete the Vikings' varsity roster. Andi Jo Embry is sidelined with a knee injury from soccer season.
"Last year, was a great learning experience for everyone, kind of me as well," Mike Neiger said, "but now they know the system. They know what I expect from them, and I know what they expect from me."