Lady Cavaliers edge Lady Bulldogs for holiday tournament title

Lady Cavaliers edge Lady Bulldogs for holiday tournament

By Jackson Wilson

Rivalries can present an extra dose of drama, especially with a championship on the line.

The Carlinville Lady Cavaliers and Staunton Lady Bulldogs were originally scheduled to square off in their highly anticipated conference meeting on Jan. 5, but many knew there was a great chance that the two South Central powerhouses could meet up a week early at the 38th annual Carlinville Holiday Tournament. Surely enough, both teams cruised through their respective pools and the Lady Cavaliers claimed early bragging rights with a memorable 52-45 victory in an instant title game classic. Carlinville has now won 10 consecutive contests and back-to-back holiday tournament titles. Three Lady Cavaliers – Rachel Olroyd (16), Jill Stayton (14) and Corinne Stewart (11) – all scored in double figures and were named all-tournament team members. Savannah Bruhn and Rebecca Caldieraro recieved honors for Staunton.

Other members of the 2018 all-tournament team included Jessa Vetter (Greenfield-Northwestern), Caitlyn Braker (Waverly-South County) and Rylee Jarman (Gillespie).

“I’m very happy for our players. Some of our girls were involved in last year’s championship and some of them had a much bigger role this time around. It was a very good high school girls’ basketball game. Staunton is a very good team and they have a great coach. I have all the respect in the world for their program,” said Carlinville head coach Darrin DeNeve.

The Lady Cavaliers were in lock-down mode on defense throughout the tournament and didn’t let up against their Macoupin County rivals. The visiting Dogs missed seven of their first eight field goal attempts and fell into an early 10-2 hole.

Carlinville remained in command until the three-minute mark of the second quarter. Stayton nailed a three-pointer for a 21-12 Cavies’ lead, but the Dogs caught fire and responded with a massive 12-2 push to tie the game at the half.

The Cavaliers came out of the locker room revamped. Olroyd buried a corner triple in the opening 20 seconds, which initiated another Carlinville run. Down 35-26, the Lady Bulldogs displayed their resiliancy once again. Abby Scanzoni cleaned up a sloppy possession with an offensive rebound and putback layup. The defense then forced back-to-back Cavie turnovers and trimmed the deficit to 35-32 after creating some easy scores for Hollie Bekeske and Bruhn.

With just under six minutes remaining in the game, Caldieraro and Abby Davis drilled back-to-back threes to give the Dogs a 40-39 advantage. At this point, the Cavaliers were in desperate need of a spark to re-ignite their fire. They got one from Elise Baker, who rebounded a missed three and responded with an enormous and-one counterpunch. The free throw was unsuccessful, but the energy was back on the Cavies’ side – on the court and in the stands.

“We preach poise and we’ve had contributions from really a lot of different girls. It’s nice to have some balance like that,” DeNeve said.

Staunton came up empty-handed on the next possession and Olroyd drew a foul before making both free throws in the bonus. Stewart then struck gold from deep to make it 46-41 Carlinville with 2:56 left to play. The Dogs pulled back to within two points, but the signature defense that had been doing wonders for the Lady Cavaliers all season stood strong again. Carlinville held Staunton scoreless in the final 70 seconds and put the championship to bed with solid free throw shooting.

Carlinville is now 13-1 on the season and preparing for another primetime home game against the 13-2 Lady Birds of Piasa Southwestern on Thursday. Game time is 6 p.m. Staunton will be back in town for a rematch on Saturday at 5 p.m. The Lady Cavaliers will also be recognizing members of the 2008-09 Elite Eight team prior to the varsity game at 6 p.m.

Day 1 – December 26

Carlinville 50, Bunker Hill 18 – Carlinville had no intentions of starting its home holiday tournament on a sour note, especially against winless Bunker Hill. The Lady Cavaliers started the game on a 41-0 run and defeated the Minutemaids for the second time in as many games.

Gillespie 55, Greenfield-Northwestern 45 – The Lady Tigers jumped out to an early 16-6 first quarter lead, but were outscored 49-29 since. Jarman led the rally with 17 points for the Lady Miners.

Staunton 46, Nokomis 22 – For the fourth time this season, the Lady Bulldogs made easy work of the Lady Redskins. Scanzoni scored 15 points and Bruhn tallied 12 as Staunton improved to 12-3.

Waverly-South County 42, Litchfield 39 (OT) – With three seconds remaining in regulation, Braker caught an in-bound pass and sunk a quick 15-foot mid-range jumper to force overtime. The Lady Vipers’ defense only allowed two points in the extra session.

Day 2 – December 27

Carlinville 53, Litchfield 21 – For the second consecutive game, the Lady Cavaliers held their opposition without a field goal in the first quarter, opening up a 16-1 gap en route to 31-7 halftime advantage. The Lady Panthers only shot 27 percent in the loss.

Waverly-South County 36, Bunker Hill 21 – Thanks to a balanced scoring attack from Malena Bixby (eight), Reese Jackson (six) and Braker (six), the Lady Vipers shut down the Minutemaids and earned themselves the right to play for a berth in the championship game.

Staunton 46, Gillespie 38 – An 11-3 first quarter advantage proved to be the ultimate difference-maker for the Lady Bulldogs in what was otherwise a dead even draw against their hated arch-rivals. Bruhn put up 19 points, with 13 coming from the charity stripe in 18 attempts.

Greenfield-Northwestern 43, Nokomis 29 – The Lady Tigers weren’t expecting to be trailing 18-17 at the half against a single-win Lady Redskins team, but a solid defensive effort in the second half eliminated all hope for an upset. Greenfield-Northwestern outscored Nokomis 26-11 in the final 16 minutes.

Day 3 – December 28

Carlinville 39, Waverly-South County 30 – The Lady Cavaliers struggled to maintain a consistent rhythm on offense, only shooting 32 percent from the floor and 58 percent at the free throw line. However, the defense still managed to hold the Lady Vipers to a lower 25 percent – which was good enough to hold off a fourth quarter comeback effort. Olroyd scored 14 points, including her 100th career three-pointer to help the Cavies punch their ticket to another championship game.

Gillespie 54, Nokomis 27 – During a game in which Jarman was held to six points, the Lady Miners still got plenty of support in what was still a smooth-sailing voyage. Emily Schmidt broke out for 12 points. MacKenzy Mix added 10 points and Sydney Bires stepped up with nine as well. Gillespie advanced to the third place game.

Litchfield 43, Bunker Hill 23 – Lizzy Luttrell (12) and Becky Painter’s (11) double digit scoring efforts were more than enough to get the Lady Panthers off the mat and into the fifth place game. In defeat, the Minutemaids dropped into the seventh place contest against Nokomis.

Staunton 65, Greenfield-Northwestern 43 – The Lady Bulldogs caught fire from deep, hitting eight three-pointers as a unit. Caldieraro led the charge for Staunton with 20 points as the Dogs advanced to the championship match against Carlinville.

Day 4 – December 29

Nokomis 41, Bunker Hill 36 – Macee Eisenbarth followed up a strong 14-point showing against Gillespie by adding 11 more big tallies against Bunker Hill. Trailing 27-25 after three, the Lady Redskins took home seventh place with a 16-9 fourth quarter resurgence.

Greenfield-Northwestern 46, Litchfield 33 – Laiken Heavner scored 11 points. Alex Pohlman racked up 10 and Jessa Vetter closed out her all-tournament run with nine points. The Lady Tigers made easy work of the Lady Panthers to finish fifth.

Gillespie 55, Waverly-South County 32 – She may not have qualified for the all-tournament team, but Schmidt still made her case as one of the most dominant players in the tournament over the last two games. The 5’11” junior hung 21 points on the Lady Vipers, sending the Lady Miners home with a third place finish after a successful week of hoops.

Carlinville Lady Cavaliers won the championship during the holiday tournament. Pictured are, front row, from left, Addi Paul, Corinne Stewart, Eryn Seal, Rachel Olroyd, Paityn Tieman and Jill Stayton. Back row, Assistant Coach John Reels, Assistant Coach Renee Young, Madeline Bouillon, Elise Baker, Faith O’Dell, Haley Wills, Madison Wieties, Gracie Reels, Sarah DeNeve, and Head Coach Darrin DeNeve.  Photo by Cory Walton.

Pictured above is the 2018 Carlinville Holiday All-Tournament team, from left to right, Jill Stayton, Corinne Stewart, Rachel Olroyd, Rylee Jarman, Savannah Bruhn and Rebecca Caldieraro. Not pictured are Jessica Vetter and Caitlyn Braker. Photo by Cory Walton.

Jill Stayton goes in for a layup during day 4 of the Carlinville Holiday Tournament. Photo by Jan Dona.