With all that has been written about the Lady Aces on offense this season, it is defense that may hold the key to Saturday’s Big 8 Conference battle of unbeatens.Mt. Carmel (9-0, 2-0 in Big 8) hosts Jasper (6-0, 1-0) in a Saturday matinee at the Hilltop. The junior varsity game begins at 1 p.m., with the varsity clash expected at around 2:30 p.m.

“Shelby Merder is a heck of a ballplayer,” said Lady Aces coach Tim Willis of Jasper’s senior leader. She is also 6-foot-2, which puts the onus on the smaller Aces’ inside defenders, including Alex Rosignol, Reagan Keepes, Marissa Hicks and Jessica Gill. With potential foul trouble hard to avoid dealing with an all-state threat such as Merder, the entire committee may be called on to limit her offensively.
Following Mt. Carmel’s 73-26 victory over Carmi on Wednesday, Willis admitted that his club played through that game, spending practice time preparing for Jasper instead.
“They’ll run their flex offense the way Jasper always runs it,” said Willis of the attack the Wildcats use. Jasper is coming off a 51-27 victory over Vincennes Lincoln on Thursday night in its Big 8 Conference opener.
Merder isn’t the only threat inside for the Lady Wildcats, as Heritage Hills found out on Monday in a 41-21 loss after holding her to only 11 points and three rebounds. In stepped Maddie Ubelhor to lead with seven rebounds, adding 10 points. Jasper’s 12 offensive boards against the Patriots led to 11 second-chance points.
Jasper has more team speed than many give it credit for, showing it particularly in transition. Heritage Hills was held without a fast-break basket all night. Wildcat forward Tori Sermersheim had two steals and a block to go with six points.
At halftime of the varsity game, the newest Aces basketball promotion will continue. It’s a season-long contest pitting boys and girls players in a free throw shooting contest. Proceeds from the contest will go back to the roundball programs.