FLORA, Ill. — Flora’s three six-footers did most of their damage against Mt. Carmel from outside of the lane Monday night instead of within.
Lady Aces coach Tim Willis could live with that.
“We knew they could shoot and we didn’t quite get out there quick enough. But we had to give up something, and we were willing to give them the outside shot,” said Willis after Mt. Carmel’s 60-49 victory not achieved until pressure defense forced the Wolfgals out of their element in the second half.
As hot as 6-footer Brooke Bayles was from outside — with four three-balls to account for her total of 12 points — Crimson Jones, also 6-foot, matched her from behind the foul line in the 15-20 foot range, to lead Flora (3-3) with 15 points.
With that kind of shooting, Flora built its biggest lead of 42-36 in the third quarter. But the Wolfgals’ good times were about to end.
“At halftime, I thought Jones was a little tired,” said Willis of the talented Wolfgal sophomore. “We wanted to keep the pressure on to make sure she had to work hard, which I think helped in the second half.”
It did just that, which also helped Tyra Buss leave her mark on the game.
In case anyone in the home-opener crowd thought Buss was having a subpar night — with 15 of 27 shooting and a career-low 6 of 15 at the free throw line — they found out how she can still dominate even on nights like that. All the reigning Ms. Basketball did was score Mt. Carmel’s next 19 points while leading the trap press that held Flora to only two during the same stretch. With that, it was 55-44 in favor of the visitors.
“We got going and had a little better movement, and took care of the ball better” in the second half, said Willis.
Buss’ 40 points was actually her second lowest point total of the young season. Reagan Keepes, who finished 4-of-6 at the 3-point line, added 14 points for Mt. Carmel (5-1).
After four games in four days, the Lady Aces get a much-needed break before their next game on Saturday at Marshall County, Ky.
There was no junior varsity contest played, after being cancelled due to low numbers in the Flora program.