ANAMOSA - When Anamosa seventh grade boys basketball coach Mike Finn got a first look at his team during pre-season practices this past December, a smile quickly came to his face.
“From the first day of practice, it was clear this team had players who could both handle the ball and score baskets,” said Finn. “Without question, the A team was full of players who could drive to the basket and shoot it.
“That was a testament to their individual work and to the folks who coached them as a travel team.”
But what Finn and Assistant Coach Michael Maher quickly found out, the rest of their River Valley Conference opponents were pretty good, too.
“Unfortunately, we ran into a number of teams who were just as good and played defense just a little better than we did,” said Finn, as his A team finished with a 1-7 overall record this past season.
“It seemed like most of the season the A team would be ahead at halftime but not score as much in the second half. Same with the B team. We just had trouble trying to play a complete game.”
Playing in the River Valley Conference for the first time ever also made things more of a challenge for the players and coaches as everyone had to adjust after being members of the WaMaC for a better part of the last decade.
“The first year in the River Valley Conference wasn’t especially welcoming for us,” said Finn, as his B team was 0-8 on the year while the C team tallied an 0-2 mark.
“Our team offense was probably a little more developed than our defense.”
Weather also played a factor in the development of this seventh grade team, taking away crucial practice time.
“That truly didn’t help things,” Finn said. “Four games were cancelled as were seven or eight practices.
“It is hard to try and get better if you are not even in school. I think the expectations for this team were to do better, but it just didn’t work out the way the coaches and players had hoped.”
Even with the struggles on the court, the team was able to keep things together and stay positive.
“This was a really good group of young men to work with,” Finn said. “They kept up a great attitude from the first day to the last. They were really coachable, too.
“I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that they will have a lot of success as they advance through the grades. There are a lot of skilled basketball players on this team who are only going to get better. I hope they’ll surprise some people.”