By Staff,

            GOESSEL – The amazing turn around season continued for the Canton/Galva girls on Saturday as they punched their own ticket for a trip to the 2023 Class 1A Division I state tournament with a 12-point, 52-40 win over Sylvan/Lucas in their sub-state finals.

            “We got off to a really good start and it ended up being the difference in the ball game,” explained Lady Eagle head coach Brad Willems. “Our pace of play and our defense didn’t allow them to get comfortable, that is what we are looking for. Our energy and effort were great all night long.”

            The Lady Eagles have had just one 10-plus win season since 2006-07 and that was four years past as they won just eight games total the last two seasons, so being at 15-8 is a huge turnaround.

            Canton/Galva will enter the state tournament in Dodge City as the eighth seed and they are scheduled to play top seeded Norwich (21-2) at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday. If they can win, they would then play the winner of the matchup between  fourth seed Central Plains (19-4) and fifth seed Highland/Doniphan West (15-5). Other first round matchups will have second seed Quinter (20-3) playing seventh seed Olpe (16-7) and third seed Frankfort (20-3) battling sixth seed Montezuma/South Gray (17-6).

            Winning the sub-state finals came despite the Lady Eagles turning the ball over 24 times and hitting just 27% of all shots from the field, though they did get to the free throw line 46 times and made 32.

            Coach Willems talked about the game itself when he added, “We did not shoot it as well from the field as usual, but we did hit our free throws which have been our focus all year. We got into foul trouble and had three starters on the bench for most of the third quarter and a little in the fourth, but we had some bench players come in and playing different positions while keeping the lead at 10 points, that shows how far we have come this season.”

            A quick start propelled Canton/Galva to the win as they led by 13, 18-5 by the end of the first quarter and held a 10-point, 26-16 advantage heading to the halftime break. Both teams played even ball the final two quarters as the Lady Eagles scored 26 and the Lady Mustangs scored 24, giving the Lady Eagles the final 12-point victory.

            The Espinoza sisters led the Lady Eagles in scoring with Lili, a senior, leading the team with 15 points while Trinity, just a freshman, finished with 13. Senior Lady Eagle, Brecken Pearson, had a huge game with recording a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.

            Concluding his post-game, post-substate reflections, coach Willems noted, “This team plays hard, and yes sometimes it is not pretty – but the energy and effort is always there all the time! I could not be prouder of these girls. Like I said after the Elyria game, these girls work hard and when you work that hard and put in that much effort – good things will happen! Now we get to practice a little more and go compete at state.”

            Willems also complimented the home folks as well, mentioning how the community and fans support and atmosphere was awesome all week and they way they packed the house for the game was great.

CANTON/GALVA LADY EAGLES vs. Sylvan/Lucas in Sub-State Finals

SCORING: LADY EAGLES > 18-8-13-13 = 52;  Sylvan/Lucas > 5-11-11-13 = 40.

LADY EAGLES TEAM STATS > 2-FGs – 717; 3-PTs – 2.16; FTs – 32/46; AST – 6; REBs – 26; TO – 24; STLs – 9; BLKs – 0; FLs – n/a.

LADY EAGLES INDIVIDUAL STATS:  Scoring > Lili Espinoza – 15; Trinity Espinoza – 13; Brecken Pearson – 11; Mimi Craig – 7; Adi Alcala – 6.  3-Pointers Made > L. Espinoza, Alcala – 1.  Assists > M. Craig – 2; T. Espinoza, Pearson, Alcala, Makinlee Hoppes – 1.  Rebounds > Pearson – 10; L. Espinoza – 4; Alcala, M. Craig, Emerson Hoppes – 3; T. Espinoza – 2; M. Hoppes – 1.  Steals > L. Espinoza, Alcala – 3; T. Espinoza – 2; Pearson – 1.

(The Staff covering events for the MAC AREA SPORTS NEW can be reached by email at