Camp Verde High School athletes of the year: Finley shined in basketball and softball for Camp Verde

Camp Verde sophomore Jacy Finley was first team All-Region in basketball and region defensive player of the year in softball. (VVN/Halie Chavez)

Camp Verde sophomore Jacy Finley was first team All-Region in basketball and region defensive player of the year in softball. (VVN/Halie Chavez)

Although just a sophomore, Camp Verde High’s Jacy Finley shined in the gym and on the softball field.

This school year she helped take the girls’ basketball team to No. 6 in the state and the softball team to the state championship game.

“They both went pretty well,” Finley said about the basketball and softball seasons. “We definitely got closer as a group and grew together like skill wise we’ve grown and we plan on continuing to grow in both sports.”

Finley was first team All-Central and honorable mention All-State in basketball. In softball, she was first team All-Region and the region defensive player of the year. Plus she was first team All-State.

“I think Jacy had a good year overall, pretty solid year,” CV head girls basketball coach Mark Showers said. “From my perspective, one of the most important things that she was able to attain this year was her emotional strength, she really improved in that area and that’s gonna carry her these last couple of years in high school and moving on to college.”

Although she collected many accolades, she wants to keep improving.

“The neat thing about Jacy is as good as she is she knows there’s room for improvement and she’s willing to do that, so that’s a characteristic that I think is gonna vary her far in her life,” CV head softball coach Henry Smith said.

Hardwood heroine

Although she was honorable mention All-Central as a freshman, she wasn’t necessarily expected to be so dominant in basketball this season.

She said she hopes to expand on the growth she experienced this season.

“I think it went pretty good I definitely stepped up from last year, I learned a lot and I hope I continue to learn more as I hope I continue to learn more as the years go on,” Finley said.

Finley averaged a double-double. She also led the region in scoring and rebounds and was second in the state in boards.

“I knew she’d be a force in softball for sure,” said Showers, who is Camp Verde’s athletic director. “She stands out both offensively and defensively above girls, especially in the 2A conference, so that was no doubt in my mind she’d be a force there. I actually didn’t consider her to be such a force in basketball until her junior year. In fact, we had talked about her being able to play a full game, not until probably her junior year that we were going to pace her because we do more running in high school and she was able to probably the last three or four games play an entire game and we had to have her on the court because she is such a force inside.”

Softball superstar

After she led the Cowboys to the state semifinals as a rookie, there were great expectations for Finley in softball and she delivered.

She was first in the state in strikeouts, second in wins and ninth in the in ERA.

This season the Cowboys limited her innings because of her bright future but Smith said she still worked hard.

“Jacy’s a workhorse, even though she didn’t get maybe all the innings that she could have, she works hard at practice, so as far as the games and innings, I don’t think that is had so much of an impact, it’s the work that she put in at practice that got her where she needed to be,” Smith said. “People don’t always see the hard work that goes into being an elite player like her and she’s okay with that and she’s willing to do the work that people don’t see and that’s important.”

This season she became more of a force at the place, finishing second in the region in RBIs, fourth in home runs, fifth in batting and seventh in slugging.

“It’s one of those things, a maturity thing, with softball you see phases of a softball player’s career and right now Jacy is starting to recognize her role and how important it is to be a team leader and things like that,” Smith said. “Last year she struggled a bit with that, with taking on the load of being a team leader, this year she accepted it. It takes a special person to be a true team leader and she has that in her.”

Now that she has a taste of the state championship game and pitching at a Pac-12 softball stadium, she wants more. “It will help a lot because then I know what it’s like to be up at a higher level,” Finley said about the state title game experience.

Looking ahead

Finley said she hasn’t thought much about college yet.

Her prowess in the circle has attracted attention though.

“There’s plenty of interest, at this point she’s only a sophomore so there isn’t a whole lot we can do there but as far as coaches paying attention, I’m sure the word’s got out that that’s a big 6 foot 4 pitcher out of Camp Verde who took her team to the semifinals once and to the finals next,” Smith said. “The next thing that I talked a little bit with her was it’s time for her to make a name for herself and part of that is being a team leader and being willing to lead the team into victory, so that’s what we’re looking for next year, for her to take us all the way through, to win the championship game.”

Smith said she has a lot of potential.

The Cowboys have produced a lot of college players.

“The biggest thing is maintaining good grades, we all know that’s important to get a good scholarship,” Smith said. “As far as physically, she has it, mentally she has it, her ability, her skills, she has the whole package and we just need to make sure that she gets the grades that are appealing to schools that are interested in her.”

Finley could potentially go very far in her secondary sport.

“I think that she has the potential to be an NAIA Division I or an NCAA Division II basketball player, but her love and her strength is softball,” Showers said. “I think the sky’s the limit for her in softball, she just has to put a few things together and she could do pretty much what she wants.”

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