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Retiring Cary Finberg relished 'fun ride' building Columbia Falls basketball programs

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Posted at 9:09 PM, Feb 06, 2024

COLUMBIA FALLS — Cary Finberg has spent almost 30 years as a head basketball coach at Class A Columbia Falls High School. Now, after an illustrious tenure, he's finally decided to call it a career.

"You know, it was just a fun ride," said a reminiscent Finberg, whose resignation was first reported by The Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell. "Just very proud of the fact that — more so than the six state championships — 17 out of 21 years we brought home a first-, second- or third-place trophy. So that was a great run, but just the relationships with the players was tremendous."

What led to Finberg to taking a coaching position at his former high school back in 1996?

"Being my alma mater, I was very excited. You know, we weren't very good at the time," said Finberg. "So I came back from college and was given the opportunity to take the job and I wanted to make sure that we got Columbia Falls back on the map a little bit."

That's exactly what Finberg did, with six total state titles between his boys and girls teams including three for the boys from 2003 to 2006. It's something Finberg knows wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the surrounding community.

"The success we had is tied in with the support that those guys gave us because you know it's tremendous when you can go to a game and the support is there," said Finberg.

"And the kids feed off that and the confidence that that brings, just the community and the people in general. It's always been a working man’s town, and we took care of it and they took care of us, so it was great to coach in front of this community."

It's a community that Finberg has seen grow over his 28 years, and he's even had the opportunity to coach the kids of some of his first players.

"To have those kids be in their 40s now, and mid 40s, and almost 50s and have a relationship with them and a friendship with them that's lasted for 28 to 30 years or so," said Finberg. "Just those relationships with players and now they're adults and some of their kids are coming through now. Hopefully the next coach can take care of business and keep this thing rolling."

Finberg will finish out the 2024 season coaching the girls team before he walks away from the role he’s held for almost three decades.