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Freshman phenom: Glenbard East's Finley adjusting to varsity ball

Published: Friday, Feb. 7, 2014 8:00 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:48 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Erica Benson - ebenson@shawmedia.com)
Glenbard East's Michael Finley (left) goes up for a shot as Andrew defenders move in during a Jan. 18 game. A freshman, Finley has made a smooth transition to varsity ball this season.

LOMBARD – The wins haven’t been as frequent as Glenbard East’s boys basketball team would have liked, so the focus has shifted to developing younger players like Mike Finley.

Finley, a freshman guard, looked like he belonged at the varsity level from his first game thanks to his sturdy 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame. However, there was always going to be a learning curve, one Finley thinks he is adjusting to.

“It was kind of hard at first, but now I’m getting the hang of it,” he said.

Finley scored a team-high 15 points in the Rams’ 59-37 loss to Naperville Central on Tuesday. It was East’s fourth straight loss, and the team fell to 4-17 overall and 0-9 in the DuPage Valley Conference.

The Rams led 17-12 before Central turned it on to close out the second quarter. The Redhawks took a 40-23 lead into halftime, and the Rams were unable to come back in the second half.

“I thought we played hard,” East coach Scott Miller said. “That was one of our goals going into this one: play hard for 32 minutes. We did that. I thought we came out strong in the first quarter and then they turned the pressure up in the second quarter. We didn’t make some good decisions, and I thought their energy level in the second quarter was really the difference.”

Despite the disappointing finish, Finley’s play was a bright spot.

“That was probably the best game he’s had at the varsity level, so I was real pleased to see that,” Miller said.

While Finley still has plenty to work on in his game, it’s amazing to think this is just his fourth year of organized basketball. He joined the Glenbard East Junior Rams program in sixth grade and started playing with East’s varsity team during practices and scrimmages last summer.

He was the first freshman to start the season on the varsity team in Miller’s tenure. Finley said adjusting to the size and speed of the varsity game was the toughest part. He has worked on being more aggressive in recent games, with positive results.

“I think I’ve played kind of good, and I’m trying to keep improving to make my team better,” Finley said. “I’m trying to get more rebounds.

“I’m just trying to get the wins.”

The Rams’ next chance for a win will be tonight at Glenbard North, which is tied with Naperville Central for second place in the DVC.

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