Progress was made, and there was plenty of success.
Lisa Finn liked those things – and a lot of other things – about the 2021-2022 Cathedral High School girls basketball season.
It was a season that featured a slew of positive memories, a slew of victories and a major step forward for a program that has made serious strides while playing in one of the most difficult sections in the state of Indiana.
The Irish formed an identity this past season, and it was a strong one.
“We had a couple of hurdles along the way, but I would say overall we progressively got better as the season went on,” Finn said of her third season as the Irish’s girls basketball coach.
“We were so inexperienced together. Had we had a little more time – another year – with everybody, I think it might have been a little different. I’m happy with it.”
The Irish, who went 11-12 in 2020-2021, improved to 15-10 in 2021-2022 and won nine of their last 11 games. They won their first-round game in the Section 10, Class 4A tournament – 49-45 over Lawrence Central – before losing in the section semifinal to North Central, 67-47.
The Irish beat Bishop Chatard, 48-44, to win the City Tournament.
“Every team loses their last game except for one, but I wish we would have had a little better showing than what we did in the last game,” Finn said. “We can play a lot better, but North Central is tough. They hit a lot of threes against us and we just couldn’t recover from it.
“But I feel like overall it was a successful season.”
The Irish, who started the season with a largely new team and two key transfers, began the season 6-8. Finn said the season turned for the better over the Christmas break when they lost two tight games in a tournament at Portage – 48-47 to Lake Central and 79-75 in overtime to Mishawaka Marion.
The Irish won their next eight games.
“After that, our girls figured out, ‘OK, we can play with some of these teams,’’’ Finn said. “We just committed to taking it one day at a time. Sometimes if you separate it out like that, it makes it a little easier. We just focused on the next task at hand and that seemed to help us. We kept saying and we kept winning and winning.
“We weren’t really playing our best basketball, but we were finding a way to win. We weren’t doing that early in the season. Finally, at the end –and that’s what you want – they were figuring out a way to win. “They were grinding out and winning despite adversity. That’s a good life lesson, too.
“Sometimes you have to find a way to get it done. They did a good job with that.”
The Irish in 2021-2022 included a three-person senior class:
*Senior Katie Bremer, 12.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Finn: “She came into her own over four years. She just really brought a lot to the program.”
*Senior Darryn Ely, 5.9 points, 4.3 rebounds per game. Finn: “I really enjoyed watching Darren’s transformation from freshman to senior year, off and on the court. She just became a different person. That was good to see.”
*Senior Gabby Gay, 3.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists per game. Finn on Gay, who transferred to Cathedral for her senior season: “I wish I had another year or two with her. Everybody welcomed her in, and she just embraced us as well. It just worked.”
Finn on the seniors: “I told them after the season they truly did leave the program better than what they found it. That’s really all you can ask for. That’s life, too. Leave things better than what you found it.”
The Irish also included:
*Junior Layla Gold: 15.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists per game. Gold transferred to Cathedral before the season, and Finn said she was an “immediate factor.” Finn: “Obviously the scoring was a huge factor, but she’s a good kid and she really became a good leader and the girls really gravitate toward her.”
*Junior Nya Huff: 3.3 points, 2.8 rebounds per game.
*Sophomore Taylor Lewis. 4.7 points, 3.9 rebounds per game.
*Sophomore Catherine Cline: 3.3 points, 2.2 rebounds per game.
*Freshman Abby Beasley: 1.9 points, 1.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists per game.
Junior Kamryn Smith and sophomore Eliza Langfeldt also contributed to an Irish team that developed a defensive identity through the season and that overcame its inexperience to turn in a memorable season and set a tone for the future.
“Our sectional is one of the toughest ones in the state,” Finn said. “We’re not quite over the hump of beating those teams consistently, but we had some wins or close games where I felt like ‘Now, we need to put the hammer down and start being the team that beats those teams.’ We haven’t been that in a couple of years and we feel like this year might be that stepping stone to that turning point.
“We’re returning some really solid players. You always feel a loss losing seniors that are really important to your program, but looking ahead I feel good about what’s to come. The legacy those players left behind is a good one to build on.”