Basketball coach named to Silver Anniversary team

Finn was Indiana Miss Basketball in 1996

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Photo submitted

The Finns stand on the Welch Activity Center court. They are, from left Max Finn, senior Mia Finn, Mrs. Lisa Finn, Luke Finn and Mr. Billy Finn.

Jacob Langdon, Reporter

Women’s varsity basketball Head Coach Mrs. Lisa (Winter) Finn is one of 18 individuals named as honorees to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2021 Silver Anniversary team, celebrating outstanding accomplishments as a high school senior basketball player 25 years ago. 

She attended Huntington North High School, where she accrued an impressive lineup of honors highlighted by being named 1996 Indiana Miss Basketball. She was also named an Indiana all-Star and to first team all-State teams as a senior. She started for the 1995 State champion Huntington North team as a junior and was named the MVP of the four-team tournament after her team defeated Carmel 43-39 in the State championship game. 

Finn then enrolled at Ball State University where she was part of the basketball team before transferring to Valparaiso University. She played two seasons at Valparaiso during which she led the team in assists and steals both seasons. She was named the 1999-2000 team MVP at Valpo.

She mentioned the call when she received the news, saying, “It was exciting to see my cell phone ring and have it say ‘MAYBE: Judi Warren.’ She called to deliver the news and we had a really nice conversation.” Warren was the first Miss Basketball in the Indiana, winning in 1976. Warren was also the head coach of the Carmel team that lost to Finn’s Huntington North team in the 1995 State championship game. 

When asked some of her favorite memories, she said, “Honestly a lot of my memories are not basketball related. The actual basketball stuff fades away. And you think about all of the fun team things we did outside of basketball.”

I lived in a small town, so the whole town rallies around a team when they go to the State tournament.”

— Head Coach Mrs. Lisa Finn

Finn noted, “I lived in a small town, so the whole town rallies around a team when they go to the State tournament. We would have packed gyms and pep rallies and parades. And I don’t think we get to experience that in Indianapolis. It’s hard for the town to rally around a team.”

One thing that stood out on Finn’s resume was being named 1996 Miss Basketball. She said, “I still think it’s unbelievable when I look back. Your name just gets put out there and you just see what happens. Coaches from all over the state, many of which haven’t ever seen the player play in person, vote on that. To receive that call when I was 17 years old was pretty cool. (It) still kind of shocks me that that even happened.”

Now entering into her second season as head coach of the Fighting Irish, she said, “(I) just want them to have a similar experience to what I had. I had really good coaches all along the way, coaches that were good mentors, good people, did things for the right reasons. So I’m trying to bring that to the girls at Cathedral, having them realize that it’s such a short window when you are playing high school sports that you’ve got to have some skills when you move out of sports.”

She hopes to use her experience on the court to help her players. She said, “I feel like I can take all of those experiences and all of the things that I learned from it and apply it directly into what I am doing now. I left college thinking this is what I was going to do with my career.” 

Finn initially did not get into coaching. She said, “(Coaching) doesn’t happen for a lot of females because they are usually the caretakers of the kids. For me it was like I veered off from what I originally thought I would do and then now I’m back to that. And that’s kind of exciting. I’m happy to be doing what I’m doing.”

At the helm of the Irish, she has some goals set for her team. She said, “With Covid and everything, I want to get through the season. So my first goal is just to get the season in as safely as possible. We have a pretty veteran team. We have five seniors who have all played for four years. I would like to see them come into their own. There’s that City championship hanging over our heads.” 

She mentioned that Heritage Christian has won the City title 16 years in a row, and ending that streak would be fulfilling, but at the same time, she said, “That’s not going to make or break a season.” 

Finn’s daughter, senior Mia Finn, reacted to the recognition, saying, “I’m very proud to call her my mom. We knew for a while that she would receive this honor, but it’s still cool to see everyone congratulating her.”

Her mother has been a part of her basketball career from the start. Mia said, “My Mom has coached me since kindergarten, so I am pretty used to it. Obviously high school sports are more intense, but I really enjoy being with my mom every day. It’s special because we get so much time together, at school and at practice.”

Mia said her memories of being coached are not that of huge moments, but rather all of the little things that she remembers. Mia said, “For example, winning close games and talking about them after, or being able to watch film together at home and talk about what happened during the day.”

She did mention a moment in the near future in which she believes will be memorable. Mia said, “At the end of December, we are going to play at Huntington North High School, which is where she attended. I think this will be very special and memorable for both of us, because I haven’t played there before.”

Selection to the Silver Anniversary team is not induction into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. These are separate distinctions and members of the Silver Anniversary team should are referred to as honorees, not inductees.