It was a thing of beauty.So complete was the Lady Aces 66-30 victory over Jasper on Saturday at the Hilltop that it not only solidified their hold on first place in the Big 8 Conference, it may have stamped the team as legitimate state title contenders in the process.
Mt. Carmel (10-0, 3-0 in the Big 8) turned a showdown of undefeateds into a rout of the highest magnitude by outscoring Jasper 22-2 in the second period to lead 37-10 at halftime. The Aces did it with the ultimate example of team play.
“We’ve been working all season to get this far, and everyone has a certain part on this team, and everybody’s working at it to make it that way,” said Reagan Keepes. “This is what we get for our reward.”
Lady Aces coach Tim Willis said his team “got off to a really good start” on defense and it snowballed from there. “We made some things happen, and knocked down shots early. Sometimes when you do that, especially at home, the crowd got into it, and things kind of just flowed.”
The drub was thorough. While Keepes and Lucero Tennis were putting on passing clinics on offense, the Lady Aces inside defense, led by Alex Rosignol, was holding 6-foot-2 Jasper senior Shelby Merder at bay, limiting her to only 11 points.
“She’s our best rebounder,” said Keepes of Rosignol, who led the way with 10 rebounds to go with eight points and five steals, the latter number perhaps the best stat of the day from the post player. “We need her every game to do what she does. She’s very important to this team.”
Willis said he has a couple of sets designed to get Rosignol “a few more touches on the offensive end,” like the back-door lobs that went her way. But, “we keep needing her to go get it at the defensive end,” Willis said.
There, as always, was Tyra Buss. She scored 26 of her game-high 40 points in the first half, while matching Tennis with three assists to go with eight steals and two deflections. After a subpar early season, by her standards, at the foul line, Buss is now regaining her old form. She hit 11 of 13 at the stripe.
“She just got into a rut early in the season. That happens,” Willis said. “She was worried about it, and I told her to keep shooting and keep getting to the foul line.”
Buss’ school-record career point total now stands at exactly 2,500 points.
Jasper (6-1, 1-1) rarely got a chance to establish itself on offense. The Wildcats made 21 turnovers, 17 of them on steals by the Aces. To make matters worse, the visitors shot only 25 percent from the floor, on 9-of-36 accuracy.
Mt. Carmel, meanwhile, was 23-of-45 for 51 percent, including 5-of-11 from three-point range, as the Aces built a 61-18 lead by the end of the third quarter, the biggest margin of the day at 43 points.
Alyssa Lang added seven points for the Lady Aces, and led the team with four deflections.
The Aces are now halfway home in their quest to win the Big 8 title. Thier next league game is on Jan. 3 at home against Mt. Vernon, followed by late-season games against Vincennes Lincoln and Boonville.Mt. Carmel goes for its’ 11th straight win on Tuesday night at home against Edwards County, followed by another Hilltop date on Thusday, against Evansville North.
The Toyota Teamwork Classic begins on Dec. 19.
In the junior varsity game, Jasper held the Aces to only four points through the first three quarters in a 27-14 win.
Julie Alka had seven points to lead the JV Aces.