New coach looks for success at SJO

By Kris Atwood
For The Leader

What was Jeff Finis looking for when he took the girls basketball head coaching position at St. Joseph-Ogden High School?
A new challenge, but the same success.


Finis was the head coach at the middle school for 13 years and made several trips to the state tournament, including a state final appearance with this years seniors as eighth graders.


“I was looking for more of a challenge,” Finis said. “I want to see that kind of success at the high school level.”
At least Finis isn’t starting from scratch. He coached a majority of the players in middle school and they know his system and he knows their playing style. Finis said that the biggest difference from coaching at the high school as opposed to the middle school is choosing from four classes instead of just two.


“There is a huge difference,” Finis said. “The hardest part is putting the girls in the right position and not just making them sit on the bench. The numbers are up this year, so I have to find playing time for most of them.”
The Spartans are coming off a 24-6 campaign that saw the team win their first-ever Sangamon Valley Conference tournament title and also capture a regional championship.


“We are going to be pretty good,” Finis said. “We are quick and can shoot the ball. We can make a run. It’s all there if we just put it all together.”


What is there for SJO is Tori Master, a four-year varsity starter, and Ashley Beals. Both were key member of Finis’ eighth-grade runner-up team. Ashley Landis will be running the point for a team that Finis said will be shooting the 3-pointer but also posting up in the paint.


“It’s not about one player, it’s about the team,” Finis said. “It’s going to be interesting. Some of the girls said they wanted to go to sectionals, and I said I wanted to go to state.”

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