A win a year in the making

Marcie Alberts came up to the press table and took a seat right right behind me.

I was typing up my game story – a loss last year by HU’s women’s team to Muskingum that shouldn’t have been a loss.

As typed, I could feel Alberts looking over my shoulder. I stopped in the middle of a sentence. Something about a coach reading my story as I wrote it came across as a weird dynamic.

“What comes after that?” Alberts asked.

I told her that Muskingum’s coach said she was confident her team could come back.

“Well,” Alberts said briskly, “you can put in your story that we will beat them next year.”

The comment was filed away.

After Heidelberg’s 78-75 win over the Muskies Saturday, I asked Alberts if she remembered the conversation.

She did.

“I remember being ticked off after we lost,” Alberts said.

So, getting a win Saturday was special. For Alberts. For her players. For Heidelberg.

It’s been a rough season for the Student Princes, record-wise. The win over Muskingum made them only 6-17, 2-14 in the Ohio Athletic Conference.

But the record doesn’t tell the whole story.

Heidelberg lost to Wilmington in the final seconds, and played the No. 5 team in the country, Ohio Northern, tight until the final five minutes.

But aside from a win at home over Marietta in December, it’s been a year of frustration in the OAC for Heidelberg.

Until Saturday.

As usual, Kathleen Phillips was the leading scorer. Phillips, a junior from Sandusky St. Mary who has started since her freshman year, went over 1,000 points this season. But in this game, just about everyone contributed.

It was HU’s first win of any kind in 2013.

“We could have folded a couple of times but we didn’t, to see the jubilation on the (the players’) faces,” Alberts said. “I want them to be able to enjoy this.”

And yet, it wasn’t just a feel-good win; it was a crucial one. With the win, Heidelberg tied Muskingum at 2-14. With Baldwin Wallace in a self-imposed postseason ban this season, every OAC team but one will make the eight-team postseason tournament. That makes HU’s final games this season – a home game with BW and a road contest at Otterbein – huge.

“That’s why you never quit playing,” Alberts said. “I firmly believe if we get in the tournament, anything can happen.”

For all of her confidence, Alberts didn’t predict a win this week. It’s too bad.

She’s batting 1.000 so far.