The Galena High girls basketball team last won the NIAA 4A State title in 2000. While it's still early, the Grizzlies made a huge statement that they're ready to contend for the crown again.
Caitlin Anderson's three-point play broke a 58-58 tie with 12 seconds left and Galena went on to beat four-time defending state champion Centennial 61-58 on Thursday at home.
"It's definitely the biggest in three or four years, for sure," said Galena coach Karen Friel about the win. "It's a really nice win. I think it does build our confidence quite a bit."
Galena had to overcome an early 12-0 deficit on its way to the win. "We had to battle our way out," Friel said.
Galena closed to within 18-10 after one quarter and 29-28 at halftime. Kaitlin Porter's eight points and two three-pointers were the key in the third quarter as the Grizzlies took a 42-37 lead after three quarters.
With the score tied 58-58, Anderson scored on a drive to the basket and was fouled. She converted the three-point play to make it 61-58 and Galena held on with one last defensive stand.
Anderson scored 19 points and Caitlin Crofts added 15 points. Friel also praised the play of post players Langley Iverson and Amy Scott.
Galena was also able to hold junior Italee Lucas, arguably the best player in the state, to 13 points. Among the key defenders on Lucas was Megan Molinari. "They're very athletic," said Friel about Centennial.
"This group has been together a long time," Friel also said about her team. "They have a lot of experience."