Often times, championship games will come down to one or two good plays that will decide the outcome. Unfortunately for the Mount Carmel Lady Aces, Newton made two big play inside the game’s final two minutes that swung the IHSA Class 2A regional championship in its favor. From there, the No. 2 sub-sectional seed Lady Eagles held on for a 53-48 win on Thursday night here.
With the score tied 46-46 late, Newton scored on back-to-back possessions to make it 50-46 and forced the Lady Aces to scramble.
“I thought we played pretty well most of the game,” said Mount Carmel coach Tim Willis. “We just didn’t make the plays down the stretch, and that’s a learning process. It stinks when you’re on the other end of it, but it’s part of basketball.”
Willis said before the game he was concerned about the first four minutes of the game, and the need to get off to a good start. His worst fears were realized, however, when Newton (22-7) ran off to an early nine-point lead.
The Lady Aces bounced back, though, on the strength of torrid first-half shooting from beyond the arc line – where they hit six 3-point field goals -- to at halftime.
“We dug our way out of it,” Willis said. “We were up two or three a half, and at the end of three quarters. But you have to make plays down the stretch. We didn’t make them tonight, but we’ve made them the past few weeks. Nothing to hang our hat on. Unfortunately, that happens. When it happens during tournament time, you go home.”
Baylie Ray led Mount Carmel (16-15) with 15 points. Kylie Terrell, one of two seniors on the roster (along with McKenna Zimmerman) finished with 13.
Mollie Dardeen added nine points, Haley Maguire six and Kami Kline two for Mount Carmel.
Mount Carmel advanced to the championship game with a 35-21 win over the host Lady Mules on Wednesday. That was a mild upset for the sixth-seed Lady Aces over fourth-seeded Fairfield.
Newton will get to host the Class 2A sectional, the next round of the state series. Monday, Teutopolis and Tuscola meet in a 7:30 p.m. semifinal game, preceded by a 6 p.m. semi between Newton and Marshall. The sectional championship is Thursday night.