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HS girls’ basketball: Staunton takes rematch against Gillespie, Bulldogs leap frog Miners in SCC standings

Ele Feldmann, pictured elevating over Lauren Bertagnolli for a layup during the Macoupin County championship game at Piasa Jan. 19, scored 22 points and led the Staunton High School girls’ basketball team to a key South Central Conference win at Gillespie, 64-56, Feb. 1. Bertagnolli scored 20 points for the Miners, who previously defeated the Bulldogs, 63-32, in the county championship game. Photo contributed.

Carlinville handles business against Southwestern, earns shot at conference title

By JACKSON WILSON
Enquirer Democrat Reporter

The Staunton High School girls’ basketball team failed its quest of three-peating at the Macoupin County Tournament, losing by 31 points against its arch-nemesis in the Gillespie Miners 13 days prior to a highly-anticipated rematch that would play a crucial role in deciding this year’s South Central Conference champion.

Instead of hanging their heads and giving into the fear of playing in front of a hostile crowd at GHS, the Bulldogs ventured into “The Pit” motivated to swap county bragging rights for a shot at their program’s first ever SCC title. That motivation paid off in the best way as Staunton held off Gillespie, 64-56, Feb. 1.

The Bulldogs improved to 21-5 overall and 5-1 in the league while ending a seven-game winning streak for the Miners.

Gillespie, now 22-7 on the year, entered this matchup tied with Carlinville for first place but was unable to keep pace and fend off the adversity of being without its scoring leader, Mia Brawner. Brawner was recently sidelined with a knee injury she had sustained just 24 hours after surpassing 1,000 career points as a junior the previous week. The Miners are currently 5-2 in conference play and hope to see Brawner return in time for the postseason.

Just as Gillespie did to them during the county championship game at Piasa, the Bulldogs set the tone via two double-digit scoring surges. Staunton ripped off 11 unanswered tallies in both the second and third quarters and had a 50-37 advantage built up one-and-a-half minutes prior to the fourth.

The Miners refused to give in and cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 56-53 with 1:42 left. But, Staunton ultimately never wavered and sunk eight of 10 free throws in the final 90 seconds to put the game out of reach.

The Bulldogs were led by Ele Feldmann, who finished with a game-high 22 points while being strongly supported by Samantha Anderson (13 points), Grace Bekeske (11 points), Jenna Staggs (nine points) and Lilly Bandy (seven points).
Lauren Bertagnolli contributed a season-best 20 tallies for the Miners. Delaney Taylor added 10 points. Erika Gill (nine points) and Becca Crays (seven points) also scored a couple of baskets to keep Gillespie afloat down the stretch.

Staunton’s remaining conference schedule features Carlinville (22-6; 6-1 SCC), Southwestern (11-17; 0-6 SCC) and North Mac (17-11; 4-3 SCC). The Bulldogs hosted the Cavaliers in a battle of one-loss rivals for soul possession of the SCC lead Monday.

Gillespie closes its South Central season with North Mac and Pana. The Miners return to “The Pit” for the final home game of Kevin Gray’s coaching career Thurs., Feb. 8. Gray will be honored along with GHS seniors Bertagnolli, Crays and Gill at 7 p.m.

Carlinville handles business against Southwestern, earns shot at conference title

Carlinville moved to within striking distance of its first SCC title since 2020 as the Cavaliers dismantled the Southwestern Piasa Birds, 44-29, at the Big House on West Main Feb. 2.

The Cavaliers opened the game on a dominant 16-2 first quarter run and extended their lead to 31-9 heading into halftime.

Carlinville got 10 threes, including five out of the hot hand of Kaitlyn Reels, who scored 15 points. Isabella Tiburzi logged double figures with 10 points and Jordyn Loveless added seven tallies in the win.

Gracie Darr and Sam Stormer contributed nine points apiece for the Birds.

Pending a road victory over Staunton Monday, the Cavaliers can lock up an outright conference championship with a victory at Litchfield Feb. 8.