OLNEY — C. J. Diel appeared to be on his way to a career night. The 6-foot-5 junior center hit his first three shots inside, and was already taking ownership of the lane.Then a cut below the left chin ended his night less than six minutes into the game.His Mt. Carmel teammates didn’t let the loss faze them as the Golden Aces rolled on to a 47-34 non-conference win over Olney on Saturday night.The Aces second straight wire-to-wire win brought them back to the .500 mark at 3-3 as they head for the Toyota Teamwork Classic on Wednesday, the first of four straight days of tournament play.
“That was unfortunate,” said Aces coach Tyler Buss of the injury to Diel, who scored six of the team’s first 10 points before the exit. “He was going to take the game over. He had that look in his eyes. When he gets going, he adds a whole new dimension to our team, where you have to play us straight up.”
After leaving the game, Diel was first examined on the bench by a trainer before heading to the locker. He then popped back out in street clothes, heading to the local hospital for stitches. Diel did return before the game’s end, and was in uniform and ready to go. Buss said he would have used Diel if the game had gone into overtime.
There was no worry about that. Because, with the exception of one third-quarter threat when the Tigers closed to within five points, Mt. Carmel’s lead remained in the 10-15 point range from the first quarter on.
“Anytime you can not play your best and come out with a double-digit win over a program like Olney, you have to be happy,” Buss said.The Aces led, 18-8, at the end of the first quarter, and recorded their biggest lead of the night midway into the second period, when it was 27-11.
Olney finished the first half strong, out scoring the Aces 7-1. A 3-point field goal by Nick Dobbs brought the hosts to within 28-18 at halftime.But, the Tigers continued the surge at the outset of the third period. Five straight points by Alec St. Pierre, who finished game-high with 21 points, coupled with the switch to a zone defense which befuddled the Aces, and Olney, without a senior on its’ roster, was back in the game, at 28-23.
Buss called time out to get the attention of his Aces. “When they switched to a zone, we were having a tough time getting looks. We challenged them to beat the zone down the floor,” he said. Mt. Carmel responded with a 12-2 run that put the game away. Riley Raber, who spared Diel, scored nine of his 12 points during that stretch.
Reece Metcalf led the Aces with 15 points, followed by Raber’s total. Levi Laws also hit double figures with 10, but spent much of the night dazzling with passes, including one 70-foot no-bounce bullet pass to Metcalf, hitting him in stride for a first-half layup.
Even with Diel lost for most of the night, the Aces dominated on the glass for a second straight game. The rebounding edge of 39-17 over Olney mirrored the 15-board margin they enjoyed at Princeton on Tuesday night. Laws grabbed eight rebounds, followed by Metcalf with seven, and Thomas Allen with six.
Diel wasn’t the only one shaken up. Metcalf went down hard, landing on his left arm, during a rebound battle in the second quarter. He doubled over in pain upon reaching the bench, but recovered in time to play again in the second half.
Mt. Carmel played almost the entire game in a 2-3 zone, which is something new.
“I need to give (assistant coach) Kyle Buss a lot of credit. He came up with that 2-3 zone look,” said Tyler Buss of his younger brother’s idea. “We have been more of a 3-2 matchup zone team, and morphed into that 2-3, and for the first time running it, looked pretty good. That will be another weapon we can use going forward to mix and match with the teams we play.”
The Aces open Toyota play on Wednesday at Gibson Southern. The boys game begins at 7:15 p.m., after the completion of the girls matchup. On Thursday, it’s on to Wood Memorial, followed by games against Washington Catholic at Oakland City University on Friday, before the championship round play on Saturday back at Wood Memorial.
Mt. Carmel failed to land a 3-point field goal in the game, finishing 0-of-5 from the arc line. Meanwhile, the 3-pointer is about all Olney had going for itself on offense, finishing 6-of-25 from long-range on the night.
• In the junior varsity game, Mt. Carmel bolted to a 12-0 lead after the first quarter, and defeated Olney, 63-42, improving to 5-1 in the process.Sam Deisher led the way with 19 points, followed by Austin Thompson with 11 points, and Daniel Dydo with 10 points.