MOUNT CARMEL, ILL. – Mount Carmel had control of the ball with 44 seconds left in a 39-39 game against Carmi on Monday night at the Hilltop. Would the Lady Aces whittle the clock, call a time out, then run a play? Or would they play through to the horn?
They didn’t need to do the former, because they were ready for the latter.
“We practice these situations all the time,” said Mount Carmel coach Tim Willis. “We practiced it yesterday and the day before just for this situation. We had two plays we liked against Carmi after scouting them. We chose the one we thought would work, and thankfully it did.”
The Lady Aces didn’t stop the clock at all. Instead, they got the ball to a wide-open Kylie Terrell off a backscreen. She scored with 0.9 seconds left to give Mount Carmel a come-from-behind 41-39 non-conference win over Carmi.
Willis called it one of his club’s “staple plays that you’ve seen a million times.” Even if it hadn’t worked, he said the Lady Aces were prepared to “take our chances in overtime. I always think it’s better not to call time out in those situations unless you think your kids are getting a little rattled or the ball is getting shaky.”
After Terrell’s heroics, there was still time for Carmi. The game officials put 1.1 seconds on the clock, leaving the Bulldogs with that much time to go the full length of the court. They managed to get a shot off from behind the time line that fell short as the horn sounded.
Mount Carmel (9-7) got out of the gate early in the first start in 2017, leading 11-4 at the end of the first quarter. Then, Carmi stormed back, outscoring the Lady Aces 14-4 in the second quarter to lead 18-15 at the halftime break.
“We had an interesting halftime,” Willis said. “I didn’t think we played very hard. We came out flat and made stupid fouls. They had one of two choices. They were either going to get mad at me and do something about it, or get mad at me then throw in the towel.”
The Lady Aces must have chosen the former, because they looked more alert on offense in the third quarter. Even though both teams scored 13 points in the frame – which meant Carmi still carried a 31-28 lead into the fourth frame – Willis said the tide had turned.
“We had re-established that we were back in the game,” he said.
Terrell finished with 18 points to lead the way for the winners. Baylie Ray, after a scoreless first half, hit her stride in the last half, where she scored all 14 of her points, including three 3-point field goals. Carmi was led by junior Abby Vaughn, who scored 16 points, but only four after intermission.
Mount Carmel returns to Big 8 Conference play Thursday, with a home game against Mount Vernon, Ind. (1-13). There will only be a varsity game (with a 7 p.m. tipoff) that night. Mount Vernon does not have enough numbers for a junior varsity team.
ACES ASIDES… The new state of the art scoreboard installed at the Hilltop over the holiday break passed its first test with flying colors. There are new LED scoreboards at each end of the gymnasium, with additional player scoring panels at the north end, similar in design to the unit at Carmi. The new boards replaced those installed in 1995.