While their personalities might be polar opposites, sisters Imani and Tiani White have one thing in common.
A love of basketball.
The starting guards for Omaha North have helped the Vikings post a respectable 8-8 mark this season. Imani, a senior, is averaging 14.3 points per game while her sophomore sister is averaging 9.6.
North coach Troy Langabee said both sisters bring positive energy to the court. Still, there are some obvious differences.
“Imani is much more serious,” he said. “And Tiani is the goofball. But they're both important parts of our team.”
Imani, a two-year starter, also averages almost three assists per game. She is one of the team leaders, along with fellow senior Ashley Collins.
“Her mental toughness and her leadership have been huge,” Langabee said. “I knew going into this season that she was going to be a focal point for us, and she worked really hard over the summer to get ready for it.”
The coach added that Imani, who is 5-foot-7, has improved her inside game — drawing fouls while driving to the basket — and improved her free-throw shooting.
“One of my goals was to be one of the top scorers in the Metro,” Imani said. “If I could do that, I knew it would help the team.”
Imani added that she enjoys playing with her younger sister, though there are moments when she has to remind her about life on the varsity.
“I tell her that she has to take things more seriously, especially in practice,” Imani said. “That's going to make her better when it's game time.”
Tiani, two years younger than Imani, hasn't had much experience playing on teams with her big sister. She says she has gotten used to it.
“She likes to be a little bossy,” Tiani said. “But I think it is fun to be playing with her. We have that chemistry, and I think that makes us both play better.”
Tiani added that sisterly advice is something that would help any player.
“She tells me to keep pushing and to never, ever give up,” she said. “Sometimes it's good to be reminded of that.”
Langabee said Tiani also brings solid skills to the team.
“She can do a little bit of everything,” he said. “She can shoot, and she can drive. And she can be a solid defender, when she puts her mind to it.”
The Vikings began the season 1-3 but scored one of their biggest wins Dec. 13 in a 49-48 road victory against now-No. 5 Millard North. They strung together a three-game win streak later in the season and suffered close losses against No. 4 Omaha Central (37-33) and No. 3 Millard West (54-51).
Imani scored 23 points against the Wildcats. It wasn't enough.
“That's the most disappointing game we've had this year,” Langabee said. “But we were right there with one of the top teams in the state, and I think that gave us another boost of confidence.”
Langabee, a former North assistant who took over as head coach for Andrew Havelka this season, said the transition has been a smooth one.
“I had some new ideas, but there were no drastic changes,” he said. “It's been a really good fit, and our team has played hard for me.”
While the White sisters might disagree at times, they both have their sights set on one goal. They want to help the Vikings reach the state tournament, something North hasn't achieved since 2002.
“I know we both want that really bad,” Imani said. “We don't have too many games left, and we want to finish strong.”
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