By JACKSON WILSON
Enquirer Democrat Reporter
In a stunning 48-39 conference victory at Pana Jan. 13, the Carlinville High School Cavaliers once again proved that one can never take a Darrin DeNeve-coached team for granted on any day.
This has been just one of many rays of sunshine in the Cavaliers’ dream sky, which has been the limit as of late. Carlinville has won eight of its last 10 contests as of Jan. 16. One of the youngest teams to ever play is becoming a local threat once again.
No upperclassman. No problem. Because newly-inserted additions to the starting lineup helped push a young but resilient bunch of Cavies to, no doubt, its greatest triumph thus far. It may not have been the third place state finisher from 2022, but it was still the league-leading Pana Panthers on their home floor. To be able to come back a year later after a 50-point loss was an incredible feat for Carlinville to pull off.
Kaitlyn Reels, a freshman, had 10 points. Braley Wiser, a sophomore who rode the bench while playing in the shadow of CHS great Jill Stayton last year, also had 10 points. That gave returning starters Hannah Gibson, Isabella Tiburzi and Jordyn Loveless all the added support they would need against a 17-win squad that had just knocked off Sangamo frontrunner Pleasant Plains a week prior. Gibson poured in 10 tallies while Tiburzi and Loveless added nine points apiece.
The two teams locked horns in the first half and went into the break drawn at 20-20.
In the third, the Cavaliers put up 17 crucial points and took a 37-31 lead before sealing the deal in the final eight minutes.
Their chances of winning the South Central Conference are still rather slim but the Cavaliers can at least say they played a critical role in shaping the overall landscape. With the upset, Carlinville dropped Pana out of the league’s top spot and into a three-way tie for first place with Greenville and Hillsboro.
The Cavaliers are 10-10 on the season and 2-3 in the SCC.