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HS girls’ basketball: Carlinville cools off Gillespie, Miners rebound against Calhoun

Staunton makes season debut in IHSA top 10

By JACKSON WILSON
Enquirer Democrat Reporter

Carlinville, Gillespie and Staunton continued making their case as dominant teams in central Illinois as they maintained consistent paces throughout the course of a busy stretch leading up to the holidays.

Carlinville

After hitting a speed bump in the road, Darrin DeNeve’s Cavaliers kept accelerating in the positive direction and remained near the forefront of the South Central Conference’s race pack with three consecutive victories over Gillespie, South Fork and Mt. Olive.

Carlinville rebounded from two tough losses against league co-frontrunner Hillsboro and state-ranked PORTA and earned early bragging rights over Gillespie, 45-36, at the Big House on West Main Dec. 11. The Miners entered that contest on a six-game winning streak, but Isabella Tiburzi and the Cavaliers shut that down with a 15-6 surge in the final quarter. Tiburzi, who averaged 15 tallies, 11 boards, seven assists, three blocks and a steal last week, flirted with a triple-double, posting 12 points while grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out eight dimes to lead CHS.

Following their 52-45 victory at South Fork Dec. 14, the Cavaliers buried Mt. Olive back on home hardwood. Four Cavaliers logged double figures, with Tiburzi and Jordyn Loveless leading the charge with 15 points apiece. Carlinville overpowered the visiting Wildcats 21-10 in the first quarter, 22-5 in the second and 19-3 in the third en route to a dominant 64-21 triumph. Kaitlyn Reels, who led the Carlinville scoring attack with 15 tallies at South Fork, added 12 points, along with Hannah Gibson.

Carlinville is 8-3 overall and 2-1 in the SCC.

Gillespie

Gillespie was quick to respond after being stripped of its program’s longest winning streak since 2002.

The Miners stunned Calhoun, 41-37, in “The Pit” Dec. 16, avenging an earlier loss they had suffered at the hands of the defending regional champion Warriors back on Nov. 21.

With 27 seconds left in the game and Gillespie trailing by one point, freshman Amari Vickery had two choices – force a tough layup or find senior Lauren Bertagnolli in the corner for a pressurized three. Vickery dished the ball off and it turned out to be the right decision. Bertagnolli’s game-winning shot never touched the rim on its way down through the net.

Coach Kevin Gray then elected to put the Miners in a full-court press and that also turned out to be the right move. Calhoun couldn’t even get the ball up the court for a potential equalizer or walkoff three. A quick Gillespie steal left the Warriors no choice but to send Erika Gill to the line for two successful free throws with 10 seconds left, thus sealing the deal.

The surging Miners are 7-3 on the season and they have now won seven of their last eight contests. Gillespie is additionally within striking distance of the SCC’s top tier despite its loss at Carlinville, trailing state-ranked arch-nemesis Staunton and Hillsboro by one game in the league standings.

Staunton

In other action, Staunton soared into the Illinois High School Association Class 2A top ten as the Bulldogs remained perfect through 11 games.

Staunton decked Vandalia, 72-25, Dec. 11 and South Fork, 49-33, Dec. 13.

The Bulldogs currently sit tenth in the state behind Breese (Central), Nashville, PORTA, Peoria (Notre Dame), Mackinaw (Deer Creek), Rock Island (Alleman), DePaul College Prep, Camp Point (Central) and Breese (Mater Dei).