It didn’t exactly feel like Senior Night, especially since the Mt. Carmel Lady Aces could play as many as three more games at the Hilltop.
“I kept trying to tell myself that this wasn’t the true senior night, that we still have regionals to play,” said Alex Rosignol.
But it was emotional just the same for three seniors – Rosignol, Tyra Buss and Reagan Keepes – Thursday.
“I cried way too much,” said Rosignol, the school’s career rebounding record holder. “They started talking about college and my bottom lip started quivering. It was worse than I expected.”
Said reigning Ms. Basketball Tyra Buss: “It was a bittersweet moment standing in front of everyone. We do have more games to play on this court, but it was nice to play in front of a big crowd.”
Mt. Carmel’s 77-50 victory over Boonville did end the Big 8 Conference season, where the Lady Aces tied Washington for second in the final standings at 4-2.
There is still one game left at home in the regular season, an 8 p.m. Saturday date with Eldorado, before post-season play begins here Monday.
“It is sad that it is the end but luckily we’re playing regionals here so hopefully we can get a last memory with a regional win,” Keepes said.
Mt. Carmel (23-4, 4-2 in Big 8) is the No. 2 seed in the IHSA Class 2A regional field.
The Lady Aces play on Wednesday against Lawrenceville before a probable championship matchup against Marshall, the only Illinois to defeat the Lady Aces, on Friday.
Buss scored 55 points in the game, enduring a physical encounter that will become the norm in the post-season.
“It actually motivates me whenever teams think they can knock me down or get a little cheap shot,” Buss said. “I just laugh it off and keep playing.”
Keepes’ shooting improvement from behind the arc line has been one of the top story lines this season.
“I really worked on it last summer. It has been a better year,” Keepes said.
How ready are the Lady Aces for the post-season ahead?
“We’ve really been working on the defensive end,” Buss said. “We can score, we’ve got the offensive part. We’re kind of short when Alex goes out so we have to be more physical. I think we’re ready.”
Lady Aces coach Tim Willis said it didn’t take long to brush off the pre-game emotion brought on by the senior night program.
“You never know how things can go, but we got the opening tip and scored, and that settled us down a little bit,” Willis said.
After leading 22-18 at the end of the first quarter, Mt. Carmel opened the second frame with a 20-4 run to put the contest away. By halftime, the hosts built a 47-29 lead.
Keepes added 12 points for the Lady Aces.
Boonville (6-14, 1-5) put three players in double figures: Arielle Blankenship with a team-high 13 points, followed by Samantha McDowell with 12 and Maddy Elliott, who had a hot hand with three 3-point field goals in the first half, with 10 points.
The Pioneers won the junior varsity prelim, 35-28.