OAKLAND CITY, Ind. — Mt. Carmel bolted to a 24-9 lead over South Central, Ind. Thursday in pool round play at the Toyota Teamwork Classic.

But, after the Rebels crept back into contention, within eight points at 44-36 early in the third period, the Aces dug a little deeper and came up with another surge. The resultant 15-2 surge finally put South Central away for good, and Mt. Carmel won, 71-54, to even their record at 1-1 in tourney play at Oakland City University’s Johnson Center.

“Our kids got a little more motivated in the second half,” said Aces coach Tyler Buss. “We were moving a lot better (in their 2-3 zone defense), getting the shooters and keeping them in front of us.”

Levi Laws scored eight of his 17 points during the pullaway, but baskets also came from Reece Metcalf, C.J. Diel and Austin Thompson.

After South Central’s Austin Knear scored to pull the Rebels within 59-40 at the end of the third period, the Aces went back to work with a nine-point run to open the fourth period, hiking the lead to an insurmountable 28 points.

Mt. Carmel (7-4), sizzled from the field in the first half, shooting 61 percent, finishing the night at 53 percent. South Central (1-6), in the tournament for the first time, could muster only 39 percent from the floor, thanks in part to a pesky Aces defense that was the main topic in the locker room, according to Buss.

“I don’t think offense will ever be one of our big problems,” said Buss. “We talked about eight or nine minutes of the halftime about our defense. We forced some things in our 1-3-1. Once we got our spacing fixed, I thought we did a better job of handling them.”

Metcalf led the way with 24 points, with most of Laws’ nine assists headed in his direction for layups. Diel also finished in double figures with 10 points.

Mt. Carmel also dominated on the board, owning a 41-23 edge on the glass. Diel and Metcalf collected eight boards, followed by Laws with seven.

The Aces, after a loss earlier in the week to Evansville Reitz, are playing at Gibson Southern tonight at 5:30 p.m. for a berth in the third-place game at best. Reitz is 2-0 in pool play, with only South Central yet to play tonight.