The girls combined Nucla-Norwood middle school basketball team, the eighth grade “A” team, not only went undefeated this basketball season, but also won the San Juan Basin League championship tournament over the weekend. They beat Mancos 55-19 in the finals.

The girls, who have been coached by Stan and Misty Galley, of Nucla, for the last five years have been playing together the last five years. No doubt, earning their medals on Saturday afternoon felt satisfying for the them. 

Maggie Andrews was a bit sick on Saturday with a cold, but that didn’t deter her from the end goal. For her, winning it all was a big deal. 

“It felt really amazing to be undefeated,” she said. “And to have that feeling, we’ve never had that, and it’s our last year in middle school, so it was really amazing.”

Yes, she was nervous for the final game, but worked through it. She said she loves her teammates. 

“I like working with them, because they’re easy and fun, and we all work hard together,” she said. “Also, we know how to play together. It’s not just one person carrying it.”

Josey Tedder said it was a great moment. 

“It felt really good, because we worked so hard for that spot,” she said. 

Shay Snyder said she felt some pressure there in the Nucla gym in the finals. 

“Because it was our last year in middle school and we wanted to end the season off good,” she said. 

Snyder is hoping all the girls stay together for combined basketball next year. 

Reese Elwood said it was bittersweet at the end of the season. 

“It’s our last year of eighth grade, and really good to end the way we did,” she said.  “But sad because we won’t get to play middle school basketball again … but good to advance to high school together.”

Elwood, too, said she wants to stay with the West End girls and compete with them, rather than against them. The girls will likely be combined next year, though both school boards did vote to co-op the teams officially, which starts when the group is in 10th grade. 

“We have 10 (players) in eighth grade combined with them,” Elwood said. “So it’s really fun, and we will advance on with them.”

Maria Camacho said she’s looking forward to playing a handful of AAU tournaments that the Galley coaches want to enter them starting mid-March. 

“I am super excited, since we are still playing. It’s still the end of our season, but since AAU is giving us longer playing time, it’s an exciting experience,” she said.  

Holli Johnson is proud of her team. 

“Winning the medal felt super amazing,” she said. “We’ve looked forward to that medal for three years.”

She said her medal is hanging right by her bed at home. She also said she hopes all of her teammates stay with it and play next year. She said it’s been fun to get to know the girls from Naturita. 

Brylea Butler said the girls have been playing together since fourth or fifth grade, in school and in the summers at camps. 

“It’s really amazing to see how close we get and how bonded as we keep going on,” she said. “I’m a bit sad that the season is over, but excited, because we are going into high school and will play even more challenging games.”