Considering the basketball program in which she grew up, hearing Carly Heim call something regular might seem a bit odd.
When Heim was a member of the historic dynasty girls’ basketball program at Hoxie High School, the Indians were anything but regular.
A state record 107 straight wins and four straight undefeated state championship seasons isn’t your average run-of-the-mill achievement.
But when the Fort Hays State University junior spoke Monday about witnessing first hand another dynasty program, it really was that simple.
The Tiger women spent a week during the preseason at the University of Connecticut, the gargantuan of women’s college basketball.
Once you see it, “was cool to see that UConn was just a regular team like we are,” said Heim, the Tigers’ junior point guard. “They just really work hard every day.”
That kind of put things into perspective.
Of course, Heim didn’t mean the Tigers are in the midst of a nationally dominating run. But it did show that big things are possible for those willing to roll up their sleeves and put in the effort.
“If we work really hard and get better and stay really close, we can be almost as successful as they are,” she said.
If there’s one thing to say about Heim, she epitomizes that idea, and takes work ethic to a different level.
That’s a big reason why Fort Hays State coach Tony Hobson had no issues this season with the fact Heim was stepping into the floor general position for a Tiger team that now sits 7-0 after a pair of big MIAA victories last week.
“She is just what you want in a point guard,” Hobson said. “She’s just tough. She’s durable, and a better-than-average defender.”
Not all that long ago, coaches were saying those exact same things about a lead-by-example guard for a Hoxie team that arguably only three or four games a year had to have its starters on the floor for an entire four quarters.
“Carly Heim is just our rock at point guard,” Hobson said. “She just kind of keeps us in what we’re doing.”
Adding to that, Heim has done a tremendous job taking care of the basketball, a big reason why, Hobson said, the Tigers are have the nation’s fewest turnovers — and sit seventh in assist to turnover ratio at 1.39.
Stepping into that lead role after spending the last two seasons behind the likes of Beth Bohuslavsky and Niki Kacperska was a bit odd for a player more often than not referred to as quiet.
“Being in that spot and kind of taking control is kind of tough for me,” she said. “You get better at it every day. But (junior Tatyana Legette) is always there helping me (Senior Emma Stroyan) is always there helping me.”
The junior is averaging more minutes per game than any other Tiger, and has seen a slight rise in her offensive production. Just outside of double figures, Heim is averaging 9.7 points per game, hitting 49 percent of her shots. Only Legette (15.6 points per game) is shooting better among players with at least 50 shots. But, that’s not her focus. She just wants to do what she can to help her team, a philosophy no doubt ingrained early in a high school program that rarely produced a “standout” player, and was driven by pressure defense and balanced scoring.
“I wanted to get a lot better on my defense,” she said of preparing to be the starter at the top this season. “Over the summer, you work on your shot of course, but the main reason (for the success) is just feeling more comfortable.”