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'No days off' for Perkiomen Valley junior Grace Galbavy

12/22/2023, 1:00pm EST
By Owen McCue

By Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)

Perkiomen Valley girls basketball coach John Russo took his daughter, Cameron, to shoot around at the high school several times per week this summer.

They were typically joined by Vikings junior Grace Galbavy, who brought the same message with her each time: “No days off, Cammie,” she told the eighth grader. “No days off.”

Galbavy arrived at Perkiomen Valley last fall after her family moved into the school district from Upper Perkiomen. Russo saw the talent and the tools Galbavy possessed as an opponent during her freshman season in the Pioneer Athletic Conference. In the last year and change, he’s had a first hand look at what truly makes the highly-recruited 6-foot wing special.

“I’ll tell you what, we have a group of kids who really love the game of basketball, but she is on another level,” Russo said. “She just has a way about her that is unique for the love of the game. In my opinion, she has to go to a school at the next level that will embrace her ability to want to be around the sport 24/7. I tried to add that to what I do and show up whenever she needed me to show up.”

Perkiomen Valley junior Grace Galbavy has a long list of colleges recruiting her. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)

While her father has a prototypical basketball build and her mother has some athletes in her family, Galbavy didn’t have any basketball upbringing. She started in soccer, first dreaming of playing professionally on the pitch. Then it became pretty clear she had the potential to thrive on the basketball court.

She’s a player who got a gym membership to give her another place to shoot when the school is closed on Sundays. She’s a player who loves to watch film, even sometimes a little too much during the school day. She’s a player consistently obsessed with getting better.

“In anything I’ve done, I’ve wanted to achieve the most,” Galbavy said. “In school, in sports. … I figured out I was pretty good at basketball. I love the sport, so why would I not want to play it as long as I could?”

Galbavy grew up in the Upper Perkiomen school district, a big fish in a small pond. She played against older competition all the time, playing up on the sixth grade team when she was in third grade.

A connection through her cousin led her out of the area to play travel ball in sixth grade for Soudertons’s ICBA team. That’s where she met Matt Harrington, a former standout at North Penn who played at Bucknell. Workouts with Harrington gave Galbavy the foundation of her moveset, and she’s continued to grow and grow and grow.

“It’s kind of just been the whole time me figuring things out because I’m not the person that has a parent that trains them,” Galbavy said. “It’s kind of just been me, like going to my coach’s house and doing moves. I just fell in love with it, so I just love to play whenever I can.”

Playing against older competition, Galbavy was typically on the smaller side. But a six-inch growth spurt in middle school had her slapping the backboard in eighth grade. She has guard skills in a long, lanky frame that she calls the “prototype body build for D1 basketball.”

She was a known commodity by the time she got to high school with multiple prep school programs recruiting her. She decided to stay at Upper Perk for her freshman season, when she averaged 18.9 ppg and took a group that broke a 60-game league losing streak the year prior to the league and district playoffs.

Her status as a prospect elevated following that season as she played for the Philly Rise Nike Elite Youth Basketball League program for the first time. Pittsburgh, Harvard, Towson and Temple all offered scholarships that summer.

Her spotlight grew bigger last season at Perk Valley. She averaged 13.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 3.4 apg, 2.0 spg and 1.9 bpg to earn second team all-state honors for the Pioneer Athletic Conference and District 1-6A champions. After playing on a high school team with as many as seven future college basketball players, her shine continued with the Rise again this summer, winning a 16U national championship as more of a role player alongside some of the top players in the country like Westtown’s Jordyn Palmer.

“The team’s that I’ve gotten to play on these past two years, I have great players wherever I go,” Galbavy said. “I can never complain. I’m never playing down. They (PV) keep me in check every practice. Rise keeps me in check. I feel like I’m never wavering between good and bad basketball.”

Perkiomen Valley junior Grace Galbavy won a 16U championship with Philly Rise this summer. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Monmouth, St. John’s, Columbia, DePaul, Penn, Rhode Island, Davidson, Delaware, Fairfield, Bowling Green and Fordham all offered her this summer. 

Schools came to Perk Valley open gyms this fall to see Galbavy and her teammates, including classmate Quinn Boettigner, who recently committed to Navy. She added Northeastern, Richmond, Quinnipiac and Yale to her list of offers in September and October.

Galbavy has about 30 or 40 programs currently recruiting her. It’s an expansive list of schools from various conferences and levels she has yet to narrow down.

“It’s great to make connections and stuff like that, and it’s great talking to coaches and I’m so blessed to have so many options, so I can’t complain about any of the process so far,” Galbavy said.

Galbavy is averaging 20.1 ppg in her junior season at Perk Valley. A 31-point night Tuesday against Boyertown set her up to reach 1,000 for her career Thursday with 26 against her old teammates at Upper Perk. 

Russo watched her differ to her new teammates at the start of last season. By the end of the year she started to assert herself on the game. She’s continued to pick her spots to take over in 2023-24, making the Vikings an even more dangerous threat.

“100 percent I feel so much more comfortable,” Galbavy said. “I’m definitely liking my 3-point shot, and coach and my teammates have a lot more trust in me.”

She and her coach have both noticed an improvement in her 3-point shot this season as she’s added arc and has more confidence — both crediting the work put in on the shooting machine in the VIkings’ gym. The PV junior likes to think her passing game is also notable, sprinkling in a few highlight dimes a game. Boettinger said Galbavy’s passes to her are always on the money. 

Russo has also seen Galbavy turn into a lockdown defender for his team this season. She and junior guard Lena Stein can take away the two top players on each team. It’s been noticeable during the Vikings’ tough matchups early this season against the likes of Penn Charter, the reigning Inter-Ac League champion, and Sanford School (Del.), the reigning Delaware state champ.

The Vikings have a deep group beyond Galbavy, Boettinger and Stein with junior point guard Bella Bacani and junior guard Julia Smith both multi-year starters. Senior Kutztown commit Anna Stein and junior forward Grace Miley are coming off the bench so far this season but have started for PV in years past.

Their terrific campaign ended prematurely in 2022-23 with an overtime loss to Archbishop Carroll in the second round of states. They entered the season as the favorites in the league, district and state and have shown no signs they can’t end the season with all three titles before Galbavy starts to sift through her list of schools this spring.

“Sky’s the limit. I have faith in my teammates and I know they have faith in me,” Galbavy said. “They’ve worked so hard, I’ve worked so hard. The coaching staff prepares us  every game. If we play our hardest, we really should come out on top a lot of the time.”

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