Lady Rockets Defeat Galena to Face Christopher in State Championship

Jared Juenger, Co-Editor-in-Chief

The Okawville Lady Rockets are heading to the IHSA Class 1A State Championship after defeating Galena High School on Thursday, March 2. Okawville was ranked No. 2 overall going up against the No. 1 ranked team, Galena. Both teams had a lot riding on this state semi-final game. Okawville was back at state for the first time since 2006 and was coming off a tough super-sectional loss last year to Brimfield. Galena was looking for redemption for their second-place finish last year after also losing to Brimfield by one in the state championship.

The Lady Rockets got a slow start to their semi-final game. Galena came out ready to score with a 6-1 lead. The Lady Rockets fought back towards the end of the first quarter to end the quarter with a score of 10-9 Galena. Okawville started to settle down in the second quarter and outscored Galena 13-6. The Lady Rockets ended the first half with a 6-point lead of 22-16. The Lady Rockets’ shots started to fall in the second half resulting in a 35-22 Okawville lead after 3 quarters of play. Galena would get the game back within 9 points with four minutes left, but Okawville would not allow them to get any closer and took down the Lady Pirates 49-31.

Alayna Kraus led the way for Okawville. The junior scored 23 points with 8 rebounds, despite not scoring in the first quarter. “We got off to a very slow start, but Coach Bowers and the fans assured us that we were still in the game,” stated the Okawville standout. “Our community in the stands along with our amazing student section made pushing for this win a whole lot easier.” The fans and O-Zone never gave up on supporting their Lady Rockets even when Okawville was down. “The atmosphere in the gym is so surreal…it’s something I cannot even explain,” expressed Kraus.

Senior Briley Rhodes also reached double-digits in scoring with 10. Raelyn Obermeier played a crucial role in the team’s comeback in the first half. Obermeier hit two momentous 3-pointers in the first half to get things rolling for the Lady Rockets. She ended the game with 8 points. Megan Rennegarbe added 5 points for Okawville, Caroline Tepe threw in 2, and Madisyn Wienstroer chipped in 1.

Christopher High School defeated Champaign St. Tomas More 42-28 in the second 1A semi-final to also advance to the state championship game. This will not be the first time these two southern Illinois teams will battle it out in a state championship game. Back in 2019 when these teams were in Jr. High, Okawville and Christopher played against each other in the SIJHSAA Class M State Championship. 4 years later, they will face each other again for the 1A State Championship. “We are not done yet. We came into this season with big goals and that is what we are going to continue to strive for,” explained Kraus. Okawville won back in 2019 and hopes to have a similar outcome this year.

The 1A State Championship game will be played on Saturday, March 4 at 11 a.m. The Lady Rockets will then travel back home for a town parade and reception at OHS around 6 p.m. that evening. Good luck to our Lady Rockets as they compete for the title of State Champions!