By JACKSON WILSON
Enquirer Democrat Reporter
When Gillespie upset Calhoun in mid-December, the eventual Carlinville Holiday Tournament champion Warriors were missing one of their key leaders due to injury. Carlinville got them at full-strength in the finale of the 57th annual tourney Dec. 29 and nearly pulled off a victory of its own.
Unfortunately, foul trouble and an ill-timed offensive drought doomed Carlinville in the second half, especially the fourth quarter.
With the game on the line, non-balanced referee calls stuck out like a sore thumb and Darrin DeNeve’s Cavaliers were on the short end of an 18-3 spread on fouls. As a result, Carlinville lost two of its most valuable assets in All-Tournament selection Isabella Tiburzi and Jordyn Loveless down the final stretch, which obviously proved costly.
Calhoun took advantage of the Cavaliers’ miscues, ripping off 18 of the game’s final 20 tallies to erase a six-point deficit and beat Carlinville, 46-36, for a second straight holiday title in front of a raucous Big House crowd.
In addition to converting 16 free throws, all in the second half, the Warriors controlled the glass as Kate Zipprich pulled down 22 rebounds while posting a game-high 18 points.
Tiburzi, who left the game in the middle of the fourth quarter with her fifth and final foul, led the Cavaliers with 10 points, along with All-Tournament teammate Kaitlyn Reels. Loveless, who fouled out prior to DeNeve receiving a technical at the 1:23 mark, added seven points.
Carlinville closed 2023 with a 13-4 record. The Cavaliers rolled through pool play, knocking off Lincolnwood 52-17 Dec. 26, South County 47-42 Dec. 27 and Nokomis 46-32 Dec. 28 en route to the final showdown.
Gillespie places third
After falling to Calhoun, 48-39, in their final pool play game, the Gillespie Miners settled for third place with a 40-22 dismantling of Nokomis Dec. 29.
Gillespie started strong with a 14-7 first quarter run and took a 23-9 lead into halftime on its way to a third victory in four tournament contests.
All-Tournament honoree Mia Brawner posted a game-high 15 points for the Miners in the win. Freshman Amari Vickery, who also earned a spot on the All-Tournament team, added 10 points along with Erika Gill.
The Miners opened pool play with victories over Williamsville 58-40 Dec. 26 and Greenfield-Northwestern 56-40 Dec. 27.
Gillespie is 14-5 overall.
In other action, Greenfield-Northwestern lost to South County on an ‘all or nothing’ three-pointer at the final buzzer, 30-28, Dec. 29. The Tigers fell to 2-8 on the year and ended the tournament in sixth place.
Williamsville defeated Lincolnwood in the seventh place game.
Savana Howell-South County