The Gillespie Middle School girls’ basketball team (23-2) is heading back to the IESA State Tournament for the second consecutive time after beating Staunton 36-20 Wednesday evening in the sectional championship played at Gillespie High School.
Under the direction of Kevin Gray and Christina Blevins, the Indians led Staunton 8-4 after the first quarter and extended their lead to 16-9 at halftime thanks to Keaton Link’s eight-point performance in the first half. Link, who plays center for Gillespie, added another eight points in the second half while Sydney Bires scored eight of her 10 points in the second half as the Indians blew past Staunton.
The Indians whisked to a 30-11 lead by the end of the third quarter and finished the Terriers out 36-20 despite shooting zero percent from the free throw line missing five of their attempted charity strokes. Link led the team with 16 points while Bires posted 10. Four other players combined for Gillespie’s other 10 points.
The Indians will start their state tournament journey Friday, December 9 with an escort send-off scheduled for 5:30 p.m. through downtown Gillespie. The team’s first round game in the State Tournament will be Saturday, Dec. 10, in Metamora High School at 10:00 a.m. versus St. Joseph (19-4). A Saturday morning victory will put Gillespie in the semifinal evening game that will be played at 5:00 p.m.
The IESA Class 3A State Tournament’s third and first place games will be played on Thursday evening, December 15 at Metamora High School.
The eighth grade girls’ team predominantly consists of the same ladies that brought home the second place trophy at the state level last year while in seventh grade. Last year, the Indians beat Paris Mayo (36-36) and Stanford Olympia (29-23) to advance in the State Championship where undefeated St. Agnes beat them 51-24.