WASHINGTON, Ind. – Coaches are fond of reminding players that a basketball season is not a sprint, but instead a marathon.

How a young Mt. Carmel girl’s basketball team will finish this season is anyone’s guess. But, the Lady Aces were slow out of the starting block in a 51-21 Big 8 Conference loss at Washington in the season opener on Tuesday.

“It wasn’t very pretty, that was pretty apparent,” said coach Tim Willis, underway in his 11th season at the helm of the Lady Aces. “We’ve got a long way to go, but that’s why we came out here.”

Mt. Carmel (0-1, 0-1 in Big 8 Conference) was plagued early by poor shooting and turnovers. The Lady Aces didn’t score their first points from the field until freshman center Kylie Applebey connected inside with 5:43 to go in the second period. By that time, Washington (3-0, 1-0 in Big 8) had built a 15-1 lead.

Callie Dunkel added a 3-point basket on the back of a 5-1 Mt. Carmel spurt to cut the deficit to 16-6. The Hatchets responded with a 9-point run to put things out of reach at 25-6.

The game was not devoid of positive moments, according to Wills. “There were efforts from younger kids who I thought stepped up. We’ll get there but it will take a little bit of time,” he said.

Dunkel added a 3-ball in the second half to finish team-high with 6 points.

In addition to Dunkel and Applebey, Willis started Annie Dardeen, Brandi Metcalf and Dylan Marshall in the opener.

Washington, which returned only 25 percent of its scoring attack from last year’s 17-4 team, was led by Cheyenne Jones, who scored 16 of her 20 points in the first half.

The Lady Aces open play in the Robinson Thanksgiving tournament next Tuesday against Marshall.

Mt. Carmel lost the JV game, 33-31. Madeline Jones, Kylie Terrel and Baylee Ray each scored six points to lead the way. Ray suffered an ankle injury in the game and was unavailable for the varsity tilt that followed.