The games were played, and that was good.
Progress was made for a second consecutive season – and that was really, really good for Cathedral High School girls basketball.
Those were two 2020-2021 storylines for a program that continues to move in a positive direction – and for Irish girls basketball coach Lisa Finn, those were two reasons the season was successful.
“I feel good about where we were,” Finn said. “I was happy with our effort at the end for sure.”
The Lady Irish, after a 15-10 season in 2019-2020, finished the 2020-21 season 11-12. They finished the season strong, winning five of their final nine games – including a 56-47 victory over Warren Central in the opening round of the always-difficult Class 4A, Section 10 tournament.
The Irish’s season ended with a 74-68 loss to Lawrence North in the sectional semifinal.
“There was going to be no easy path for us,” Finn said. “You definitely want to be playing your best basketball. With all the Covid distractions and other distractions, I feel like we really were doing that. We put ourselves in a position to win that final game. We had a chance.
“We lost to the defending state champions by six points. Only one team in Indiana gets to finish with a victory. Obviously if you limit some of the distractions along the way we could have been further along, but a lot of lessons came out of this season for sure.”
The postseason victory over Warren Central was the Irish’s first over that program since 2015-2016, and Finn said the Irish in her second season as head coach continued the process of learning to trust teammates and play as a unit.
“We had some bumps in the road,” Finn said. “Everyone was learning to trust each other and learning that basketball is not five games of one on one. You have to have everybody involved. I think we started to figure that out at the end.
“Our girls learned a lot as far as that goes and we learned a lot about how important leadership can be. We learned a lot of lessons – maybe not even on the court as much as team chemistry and how teams work together and really just dealing with different personalities along the way.”
The Irish in 2020-2021 were led by five seniors:
*Forward Caroline Cline (6.2 points per game, 4.4 points per game), an Indiana Basketball Coaches Association academic all-state selection.
*Mia Finn (7.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg), an IBCA academic all-state selection.
*Guard Clara Lee (6.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg).
*Guard Nyla Bingham (2.6 ppg, 2.2 rpg).
*Guard Courtney Fields (14.9 ppg, 2.9 assists per game).
The five seniors were complemented by a solid group of underclassmen, including junior guard/forward Katie Bremmer (12.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and junior forward Darryn Ely (5.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg).
“It was a good group of kids,” Finn said. “We had some adversity along the way but overall it was a good experience for most of them.”
Among the obstacles faced by the Lady Irish were the same challenges created by Covid-19 that have affected all Indiana sports for the last year. The Irish navigated those challenges and were able to play a 23-game schedule and make it to the postseason – a significant accomplishment that Finn said can’t be overestimated.
“I feel like every game we played, the opposing coach and I would say, ‘Well, we’re here; we get to play another game,’’ Finn said. “That became a pregame theme talking with the girls: ‘Hey, we’ve got another game. Go out and make the most of it.’
“Obviously things were different, but they got to play. They learned a lot from it and got to experience a lot of things they’ve never experienced before. I don’t think we can really complain too much about that.”
The result was a season of progress, which Finn said should continue next season when the loss of the five seniors could make it feel like “a whole new team.”
“It makes it fun, though,” Finn said. “It’s definitely on an upward trajectory. Hopefully we’ll be able to have a good offseason – a normal offseason if you will – which we didn’t have last year. We’re hoping this summer we’ll get more of a normal offseason where we can work with some of the young players.
“We have a lot of great kids and a lot of very team-oriented kids coming in. That’s going to be important for us.”