BOONVILLE, Ind. – The Mount Carmel basketball team has righted its ship, and the Golden Aces are now gladly sailing into uncharted waters.
The Golden Aces snapped a three-game losing streak with a 68-59 Big 8 Conference victory over Boonville, Ind. On Friday night. The win guaranteed their first winning season in 14 years in the league.
It wasn’t easy, as they never are for the smallest school in the otherwise-Indiana league.
Mount Carmel (13-3, 4-0 for the first time ever in Big 8 conference play) trailed at halftime, 29-28, thanks mostly to uncanny accuracy by the host Pioneers from the arc line. Boonville (2-9, 0-3) had 10 3-point field goals in the game, seven of those coming in the first half.
In the third quarters, the Aces, ranked eighth in the latest Associated Press Illinois Class 2A poll, began to roll. Their two 6-foot-8 towers, Justin Carpenter and Jackson Marcotte, dominated with eight and seven points, respectively, during the frame as Mount Carmel rallied to a lead it never relinquished.
“Give Boonville credit. They did a lot of things in the first half that had our guys confused,” said Mount Carmel coach Tyler Buss.
Carpenter led the Aces in scoring with 27 points. Marcotte added 21.
Buss was as impressed with Carpenter and Marcotte’s play on the boards than he was with their point totals. “I thought they rebounded as a tandem as well as they have all year. When the ball was up there, they were going to get it, not really relying on one of them to get it.”
Buss also lauded the play of the Aces bench, citing the offensive board work of Blake Golden and also the shooting of Dawson Brown, who made a big 3-pointer to extend the Aces lead at one point in the second half.
Glenn Rouch led Boonville with 19 points. Ben Meier added 15, with Hunter Bruce chipping in with 11 second-half points. The Pioneers scoring threats kept the Aces adjusting all night, according to Buss.
“We kept mixing it up (on defense),” Buss said. “We started with a box-and-one (against Rouch) at first. Then, when (Meier) got going, we started chasing him around too. Our guys did a good job of doing what we talked about at halftime and executing it in the second half.”
Mount Carmel opens play in the Carmi-White County High School Invitational on Monday night. The three-time defending champion Aces play Fairfield, which upset Eldorado in December, at 7:30 p.m. Other teams entered at Carmi are Harrisburg, Big 8 foe Mount Vernon, Ind. and the host Bulldogs.