Galva eighth graders capture regional title

Mike Landis, Editor
The Galva eighth grade girls basketball team defeated Annawan 39-24 Friday (Nov. 30) to win the Class 8-1A Regional 9 Tournament at Annawan. Team members are, front from left, Kendall Rogers, Olivia Jones and Ava Strom. Back row, head coach Jackie Clucas, Taylor Haga, Sarah Kaiser, Kali Yelm, Alexis Spivey and Lexi Stone.

A familiar foe — and a foe that proved tough to beat this season — stood between the Galva eighth grade girls basketball team and an IESA regional championship Friday night.

The Bobcats were tangling with Annawan for the Class 8-1A Regional Tournament title on the Bravettes’ home floor, but Galva avenged two previous losses to Annawan and rolled to a 39-24 win to claim the championship plaque.

“This group is special in that they are not afraid to work hard and set goals and take on tough challenges,” said head coach Jackie Clucas.

Now 16-6 on the season, Galva’s next assignment came Wednesday (Dec. 5) night against an undefeated Monmouth ICS squad at the Williamsfield Sectional. The results weren't available for this week's print edition, but Galva's season came to a close with a 46-24 loss to ICS.

Annawan entered the regional title game with a pair of wins over Galva during the regular season — 30-25 in conference play and 37-27 in the conference tournament.

“We focused on our strengths — playing together, tenacity on defense and using an inside-out attack with screens for offense,” Clucas said of her team’s game plan against Annawan.

Before boarding the bus for Annawan, the team did a walkthrough with the GHS freshman girls and fresh-soph coach Anna Olson.

“She was our silent cheerleader all season,” Clucas said of Olson, who coached the group last year in seventh grade. “She was always there when we needed her.”

The preparation helped Galva race to a 23-8 lead at the half.

“We got the early lead and never looked back,” Clucas said.

Lexi Stone sparked Galva’s big first half, as she scored 12 of her game-high 14 points in the second quarter. Kali Yelm chipped in with 11 points and Alexis Spivey added eight.

“Our theme for the night was be a great teammate and play six minutes at a time,” Clucas said.

In addition to the combined 25 points from Stone and Yelm, Clucas applauded the play of Spivey and Sarah Kaiser inside, the defensive work of Olivia Jones and Taylor Haga, and contributions of seventh graders Kendall Rogers and Ava Strom.

“One of the best parts of coaching this group is their teamwork,” Clucas said. “They play like they love it. So many people come up to me and say how fun they are to watch. That is the love of the game shining through, and that’s pretty rare for this age group. The parents deserve a shoutout, too, for all the support over the last four years.”

Stone, Yelm in All-State game

Once Galva’s season is complete, Lexi Stone and Kali Yelm have another basketball date on the calendar.

The duo has been selected to play in the All-State Junior High Classic at Lincoln College on Saturday, Dec. 15.

Entering sectional play, Stone led the Galva eighth graders with 370 points on the season (nearly 17 points per game) and Yelm added 223 points (just over 10 points per game).

“It’s a great honor for them,” Clucas said.