Cardiac Cavies save season – for a couple
Auburn puts end to Carlinville season with Friday night win
By Eric Becker
LITCHFIELD (Feb. 15, 2018) – The dust finally settled inside the Litchfield High School gymnasium Wednesday night, but talk about what fans just witnessed did not.
In a back-and-forth regional tournament, season-elimination game, the Carlinville Cavaliers ended up one point better than their county rival Gillespie Miners, 74-73 in double overtime.
Gillespie had won the only other meeting earlier this season, 51-43 back in the early part of the season.
“What a fun game,” said Carlinville coach Darrin DeNeve, who earned his 202nd career win at CHS in 12 seasons. “A great job by kids on both teams. We had girls making shots, and getting steals and rebounds. Just a tremendous game. I wouldn’t say it was always the prettiest – a lot of turnovers on both sides, but that’s a matter of the girls getting after it on both teams. Coach Gray does a great job. We’re lucky to come out of that one.”
The Cavaliers were the fourth seed of the regional going up the sixth-seeded Miners. From the start, this was quite the show.
Despite the fact that both teams committed 32 turnovers, the game was fascinating by the pace and the number of points scored.
The Cavaliers had eight turnovers in each of the first two quarters and thus were unable to grab a manageable lead.
On the strength of six straight points from Emily Schmidt, the Miners led 12-7 late in the quarter.
But a steal/layup from Rachel Olroyd and a rebound basket by Corin Stewart made it a 12-11 Gillespie lead after one quarter.
The Cavaliers held a 19-16 lead but Mackenzy Mix got hot for Gillespie in the second, scoring 10 of her team’s first 12 points as the Miners grabbed a 24-19 lead after an 8-0 run.
Paige Niemeyer, needing just 13 points to reach 1,000 for her career, was held scoreless until late in the first half. She scored the final four Miners points, sandwiched in between a Sydney Bates three-point make.
Gillespie led 28-25 at the break.
Carlinville came out with a defensive purpose in the third and shot into a five-point lead behind a 14-6 run to start the half.
Sydney Cania hit a three-pointer to start the run. Stewart had a pair of hoops, along with Olroyd, Emma Griffith and Bates baskets.
But Niemeyer kept the Miners afloat, scoring 10 points in the third quarter as Gillespie regained the lead 44-43 after three quarters on a pair of Keaton Link free throws. Niemeyer moments earlier had scored in the paint for her 1,000th career point, and was recognized between quarters and given the game-ball.
Niemeyer was the second player this year to record point number 1,000 against the Cavies, after Mallory Schwegel of Bunker Hill did it prior to Christmas.
The game was just heating up for the basketball enthusiasts out there.
Carlinville claimed a 47-44 lead, only to be countered by four free throws from Niemeyer and a 48-47 Gillespie lead.
The Cavaliers took a 53-50 lead, only to see Gillespie tie it on a Niemeyer basket with 3:10 left.
Cania calmly made another three-pointer with 1:43 left to break the tie.
A spin move by Niemeyer made it 56-55 Carlinville with just under a minute left.
Olroyd missed four straight free throws over a 40-second span, and with 23 seconds left, the Miners had a chance for the lead.
Rylee Jarman scored while being fouled with 13.1 seconds left. Her free throw made it a 58-56 Gillespie lead.
The Cavaliers got the ball down court, but was knocked away and a jump ball was called with 3.7 seconds left. The arrow favored Carlinville in the first of a crazy set of sequences to finish the game.
The Cavaliers inbounded on the other side of half-court, getting it to Olroyd, who launched up a shot with two seconds left.
A foul was called and Olroyd returned to the line.
She made the first, forcing a time out from Gillespie coach Kevin Gray for the purpose of trying to jinx her.
But Olroyd made the second free throw, and the game was headed to overtime, tied 58-58.
The Miners took a 62-60 lead on four free throws from Niemeyer, but a three-point play with 2:12 left from Stewart gave the Cavies the lead back at 63-62.
Turnovers and missed shots followed until Grace Bertolino went to the foul line with 31.7 seconds left in overtime. She made both and Gillespie went back on top 64-63.
Not to be outdone, Cania made yet another three-pointer (she made all five attempted in the game) with 20 seconds left and the Cavies led 66-64.
Gillespie set up for a last play, and attempted an outside shot for the lead. When that went off the rim, the ball changed hands a couple of times, before Emily Schmidt ended up with it, scoring on a stickback just before the buzzer sounded.
It was on to double overtime, 66-66.
Cania’s fifth three-point make of the night made it 69-66 Cavies with 2:47 left, and Olroyd then made a three-pointer with 1:46 left for a 72-68 lead.
Shelby Turner, who moments earlier had dived for a loose ball and shoveled it to Schmidt for a basket, then hit a three-pointer with 1:32 left to make it 72-71.
The teams exchanged turnovers, and Bates got fouled with 14.2 seconds remaining. She hit the second for a 73-71 lead.
Carlinville’s defense forced a jump ball, giving the Cavies possession with under 10 seconds left. Griffith was fouled, went to the line and made the second of two free throws for a 74-71 lead with 5.5 seconds left.
Gillespie ran the ball up court, got a decent look at a three-point shot but it was well short. Abbie Barber put it back in as time expired, but the Miners were a point shy.
“That’s a unique experience – you don’t get a whole lot of double overtime one-point victories,” DeNeve said. “I’ve been doing this 25 years and that’s less than I can count on one hand.”
In the madness, Gillespie made 22 of 24 free throws from the foul line compared to just nine of 21 for the Cavies.
But Carlinville had the outside touch, outscoring Gillespie 27-3 from the three-point line.
Olroyd finished with 18 points; Cania had a season-high 17 points and Stewart finished with a career-high 16 points. Bates and Griffith each had eight points; Paityn Tieman scored five and Natalie Kaganich added two points.
“It was a team effort – it was a good team win,” DeNeve said. “Very happy for our girls to get a chance to play on Friday night for the regional championship.”
The Cavaliers were 28 of 62 from the field in the game.
Niemeyer had 22 of her 26 points in the second half, finishing with 1,013 career points. Mix added 14 points and Schmidt had 13 for Gillespie, which made 25 of 67 from the field.
In addition for Carlinville, Olroyd finished with six rebounds, six steals and three assists; Bates had nine rebounds and four assists; Cania had three steals; Tieman had eight rebounds; Griffith had nine rebounds; Stewart had five steals and Taylor Wills had three steals. Carlinville had a 39-31 rebounding edge.
Carlinville had an extra day to get ready for Auburn, as the regional finals usually played on Thursday for girls was being played on Friday this year in Litchfield.
“They’ve got a terrific post player in (Katryel) Clark and they’ve got a good shooting guard in (Hannah) Smith,” DeNeve said. “They beat us at our place in December in a good game so hopefully we’ll have enough left in the tank to give them a good game on Friday.”
Auburn 47, Carlinville 32
A trip to the Hawk Center and Riverton High School’s Sectional was on the line Friday night.
The Cavies lost to Auburn 39-36 early in the season.
Auburn would start strong with a big first quarter and went on to post a 47-32 victory over the Cavies for the regional title.
Carlinville could not neutralize Katryel Clark, who scored 26 points for the Trojans, giving her 55 in two regional games in Litchfield.
Clark scored the game’s first four points before a Olroyd basket. The Carlinville junior was battling an illness throughout the game, but still managed to put up workmanlike numbers with a team-high 16 points.
Leading 4-2, Auburn would score 14 straight to take command. A three-pointer by Karlie MacKenzie came in the middle of the run.
Stewart scored at the quarter buzzer, but the Cavaliers trailed 18-4.
Carlinville got just one field goal in the second quarter, coming late to make it a 30-11 halftime lead for Auburn.
Down but not out, the Cavaliers showed some grit on the defensive end to start the third quarter.
Bates stole the inbounds pass and fed Stewart for a basket to start the second half.
Olroyd converted a three-point play, and a Bates steal and basket trimmed the deficit to 32-18. The Cavies forced eight Auburn turnovers in the third, and Auburn burned two timeouts.
It was 36-18 when Kaganich followed her own shot with a basket, and Olroyd came up with a steal and hoop, and two of four free throws.
The lead was down to 36-24 late in the third. Clark added the final three points of the quarter to give Auburn a 39-24 advantage through three quarters.
Tieman’s three-point play to start the third quarter again trimmed the lead to 12, at 39-27.
Olroyd hit the team’s lone three-point field goal with 2:08 to play to make it 42-30, but the Cavaliers would get no closer, ending their season at 19-11.
Olroyd had 16 points; Stewart, Bates and Tieman had four points each; Griffith and Kaganich had two points each. The Cavies made 10 of 46 from the field, 11 of 14 free throws with 22 turnovers.
Bates finished with 10 rebounds, four steals and two assists for the Cavaliers; Tieman had seven rebounds and Stewart had four steals.
Auburn got 26 points from Clark as the Trojans made 17 of 44 from the field and 12 of 20 at the foul line with 16 turnovers.