Lady Cavaliers survive Piasa Birds, but receive karma from Lady Bulldogs

Lady Cavaliers survive Piasa Birds, but receive karma

Carlinville clinches top seed in

Macoupin County Tournament

By Jackson Wilson

All streaks have to end at some point.

This past week brought with it good news and bad news for the Carlinville Lady Cavaliers.

The good news: Carlinville clinched the top seed in the Macoupin County Tournament, surviving Southwestern 36-31 for their 11th consecutive victory.

“Whenever you’re the one seed, I suppose you have a slight advantage going into the tournament. We’ll have to beat two good teams to win it, but it’s nice to be recognized for sure,” said a grateful Carlinville head coach Darrin DeNeve.

The bad news: the Cavies had been struggling to maintain a consistent rhythm on offense throughout the rivalry week, and it fatally cost them in Saturday’s 46-39 loss to Staunton.

Before the game, a special reunion ceremony was held for members of the 2008-09 elite eight Lady Cavaliers basketball team – Renee Young, Kelsey Card, Elizabeth Kelly, Savannah Bates, Jenna Wernsing, Camryn Walton, Katie Graham, Nikki Boente, Ali Goodman, Susan Herndon, Hannah Carpenter, Carlee Graham, Katie Kirk, Callie Salske and Rebecca Kallal.

Carlinville missed 18 of 30 free throws for the game and was held without a field goal throughout an eight and half minute stretch, allowing the Dogs to take control in the second quarter.

With Staunton’s lead at 24-14, Jill Stayton drilled a three-pointer to end Carlinville’s drought. Unfazed by pressure, Savannah Bruhn answered with a three-pointer of her own – a buzzer beater that killed the Cavies rally heading into the half.  The fiesty senior guard was the main catalyst for the Dogs – chalking up 20 points, 6 rebounds and 5 steals in the victory.

Despite continued coldspells and sloppy possessions throughout the second half, the Lady Cavaliers’ defense kept the game alive by holding the visiting Dogs to just one point in the opening five minutes of the fourth. With 3:30 remaining, Rachel Olroyd electrified the crowd with a clutch step-back triple to make it a single possession game, 38-35. Olroyd led the Cavies with 9 points in the losing effort. Stayton finished with 8 and Paityn Tieman added 7 tallies as well.

“We knew they were going to make a run. We knew their guards were good and we did a great job battling through it,” said Staunton head coach Kyle McBrain.

The comeback was nearly complete, but  Carlinville simply didn’t have enough fuel left in the tank to get over the last hill. In crunch time, the Staunton defense was in lockdown mode – holding the Cavies to just four points in the final three minutes and allowing Bruhn to seal the deal at the charity stripe. Bruhn sunk 13 of 16 free throws on the night, including seven in the fourth quarter.

During the previous matchup at the Carlinville Holiday Tournament, the Lady Cavaliers were able to shut down Abby Scanzoni. This time, the 6’2” senior delivered – scoring 9 points and pulling down 14 rebounds. Additionally, Rebecca Caldieraro put up eight points and Hali Bandy racked up seven for the victorious Lady Bulldogs.

Staunton improves to 15-5 overall and 4-2 in conference play, while Carlinville suffers its first defeat since being edged by Hillsboro 58-57 on Nov. 29. The Cavies are 14-2 on the year, with both losses coming within the South Central Conference (3-2). Both teams have now beaten each other head-to-head, with the overall score dead even at 91.

“We didn’t have any quit in us. We kept fighting. Things just didn’t fall. Staunton is a good team and there’s a pretty good chance we will see them again. We’ll see how it goes,” said DeNeve.

“This was a big win for us. We kind of had a bad taste in our mouth because of the way we played in the championship game. To come out here and get a conference win against them and give them their second loss was a lot of fun,” stated McBrain.

Carlinville will travel to Roxana for another conference meeting on Thursday. Game time is  6 p.m. Next Wednesday, the Lady Cavaliers will begin county tournament play against either Gillespie or North Mac at Mt. Olive High School. The Lady Miners and Lady Panthers will square off in the quarterfinal on Monday at 7:30 p.m.

Prior to Saturday’s Carlinville girls’ basketball game against Staunton, the team recognized the members of the 2008-09 elite eight basketball Cavaliers. Front row, from left, are Jenna Wernsing, Savannah Bates, and Ali (Goodman) Hamilton. Back row, from left are Assistant Coach Jenna Tate, Renee Young, Kelsey Card, Katie Kirk, Elizabeth Kelly, Nikki Boente, and Coach Darrin DeNeve. Not pictured are Hannah Carpenter, Katie Graham, Carlee Graham, Susan Herndon, Becca Kallal, Callie Salske, and Camryn Walton. Photo by Jackson Wilson.