MOUNT CARMEL, Ill. – Mount Carmel girl’s basketball coach Tim Willis should probably pitch a program idea to cable TV network DIY. No, Willis isn’t doing a home makeover. Instead, he’s into team makeovers. As in his Lady Aces, forced to completely switch gears on the fly in the wake of the loss of inside stalwart Kylie Applebey to a season-ending knee injury.
Willis must now flip his team into a smaller, quicker unit which manufactures points through pressure defense and outright hustle. The Lady Aces lost their first game without Appelebey (and Mollie Dardeen, too, though she is expected back soon) at Princeton on Monday, but bounced back Thursday night for a 53-43 non-conference win over Edwards County at the Hilltop.
“We went back to some of our old basic plays. Simple stuff, and we did that really well,” said Willis after the win.
It took a while for the Mount Carmel (7-2) to get started. Trailing 12-10 at the end of the first quarter, the Lady Aces regrouped to forge a 29-24 lead by halftime. In the third quarter, the hosts turned the heat up a notch, outscoring Edwards County (4-4) 17-11 to hike the lead to 46-35.
“We knew it was going to be a good game, and it was” said Lady Aces junior guard Haley Maguire. “We knew we had to get our heads in the game. Even through all those turnovers, we played our hardest.
Willis said the hardest part of the makeover is that it’s happening during a particularly game-heavy portion of the schedule, which leaves the Lady Aces precious little practice time to install all the changes.
Mount Carmel was led by Baylie Ray who finished with 23 points, including four 3-point field goals. Kylie Terrell was next with 13 points.
Edwards County sharpshooter Caelyn Nelson, who had seven 3-pointers in the Lady Lions most recent game, knocked down three more from beyond the arc line. She finished team-high with 15 points. Macer Borowiak wound up with 11 points.
A 3-ball by Lady Aces senior McKenna Zimmerman in the third quarter gave Mount Carmel its biggest lead at 14 points, 39-25. That was one of seven triples on the night by the winners.
Mount Carmel hosts Jasper (2-5) Saturday afternoon in a Big 8 Conference game. The JV game begins at noon, followed by the varsity tilt.
Edwards County won the JV game, 36-22.