Vaught’s note: The Galilean Home Ministries in Casey County is a special place that helps those in need of all ages and includes the Galilean Christian Academy, a private religious school. The boys basketball team recently won it second straight Kentucky Christian School Athletic Association state title. The team now needs help raising $3,000 to attend the national tourney in Tennessee in hopes of winning a second straight national title and has a gofundme page at https://www.gofundme.com/GCAtoNATIONALS if you would like to help. Enjoy the story.
By Quincy Burt
Every season, at any level in sports, the goal is to win a championship. In the Kentucky Christian School Athletic Association basketball season the Galilean Christian Academy experienced the good kind of deja vu as the Eagles are the last team standing again.
There were some new faces, with just two starters and a total of four players returning, for the 2016 campaign, but the results were the same with another State Championship.
“I can’t really put it into words,” Coach Scott Jones said. “We have been through so much this season. This really was a completely different type of team. I am so proud of the way these boys came together this year. It’s something else to win second State Title, especially back to back.”
On Saturday in Lexington, the final opponent was even the same for the Eagles in this Championship run. (3) Galilean faced (1) Bluegrass United for a rematch of the 2015 Championship Game. The Eagles took home a second-straight KCSAA State Ch
ampionship banner 77-73.
Galilean came into the State Tournament at 27-5 earning a first round bye. Clays Mill’s style of play produced a low-scoring affair, but a stout defensive effort for Galilean kept the Cougars at arms length, especially in a 20-8 third quarter by the Eagles.
“We couldn’t have won that game without the defense of Devon (York),” Assistant Coach Jeremy Jones pointed out. “We asked him to take care of their best offensive weapon and he did exactly what we asked him to do. I didn’t care if he didn’t make a basket, I wanted that kid shut down.”
York held Mr. Basketball Candidate James Zhurko to just nine points and scored 11 of his own to go along with five assists and nine rebounds. Galilean got a double double from fellow junior Glen Roy, who finished the game with 28 points and 15 boards. Sophomore Tristan Royalty added 10 rebounds in the 61-30 win to advance to the final four against Christian Academy of Lawrenceburg.
Galilean answered the bell again with good defense down the stretch, surviving a late surge by the Rams 58-57. Royalty and Roy led the way with a pair of double doubles. Royalty with a team-high 19 points coupled with 10 rebounds while Roy led the team bringing down 16 rebounds to go with his 18 points. Freshman point guard Dalton Upchurch added 13 points. York dished out six assists and grabbed eight rebounds.
“I though CAL was the team to beat all season,” Scott Jones explained. “I couldn’t be happier with the way our defense stepped up, and Devon again was asked to defend the best offensive player on the other side — he really came to play.”
Next up was the rematch with Bluegrass United, which had just one loss all season and was the undisputed number-one seed in the tournament. The Blue Hawks had beaten Galilean two times early in the season. A hotly-contested first half ended with Bluegrass up six and with all the momentum.
The Eagles outscored BU by 12 in the third quarter to take a 57-51 lead, but the fourth quarter saw a pair of teams leave it all on the line with each team seemingly unable to put the other away until clutch free throws down the stretch by Upchurch and sophomore Noah Wesley.
With 1.7 seconds left and just a two-point lead for Galilean, Wesley stepped to the line and calmly knocked down a pair of free throws to essentially put the game out of reach.
“Those were important free throws,” Scott Jones added. “That put us up four and all I had to do was make our guys understand that all they had to do was not foul and we were going home with another banner.”
A balanced scoring attack was the key to the 77-73 win in the Title Game. Senior captain Isaac Tucker saved his best for last in the State Tournament. Tucker, at just 5’7”, had a double double with 12 points and 11 rebounds while adding five assists and three steals. When the bigs for the Eagles were in foul trouble, it was Tucker who went down low to secure significant boards. Tucker earned State Tournament MVP.
York added nine assists, leading Galilean in each State Tourney game, and six rebounds to his 12 points while Wesley scored 13. Upchurch had 10 points and two assists. Roy added another double double with a team-high 14 points and 14 rebounds. Senior Caleb Stanley scored eight points and grabbed five boards off the bench. Royalty also scored eight.
“I am so proud of these boys,” stated Scott Jones. “We weren’t a dominant team this year, but they played with everything they had, especially in this tournament. It was great to see all the hard work these boys, and my staff, put in come together.”
Roy and York were named to the All-Tournament team with Tucker. Royalty, York, Roy and Tucker earned spots on the East All-Region Team. Roy was named first-team All State while Tucker earned a place on the second team.
The Galilean Eagles are 30-5 securing a 14th 20-win season and a fifth 30-win season in the Scott Jones era. It is the 9th-straight 20-win season and Galilean has won 30 or more games three-of-the-last-four seasons. The Eagles will attempt to defend their 2015 National Championship at the NACA National Tournament March 2-5.