CARMI – Jackson Marcotte hit a 3-point field goal with 25 seconds left, then Mount Carmel held off Harrisburg in the final seconds for a 44-43 victory at the Carmi-White County Invitational on Tuesday night.
Harrisburg got the ball into the hands of its’ leading scorer, Isaiah Saulsberry, but the Golden Aces defense kept him from getting a shot off, Instead, it was Noah Farrell, who missed at the buzzer.
“We have lost a couple of games late. So, it feels good to win one,” said Mount Carmel coach Tyler Buss after his eighth-ranked Aces had repelled the upset bid for their third straight win. “I don’t know how much we particularly deserved this one. For a good portion of this game we got outplayed and outhustled.”
Yet it was defense that came to the rescue for Mount Carmel (15-3) down the stretch. After Harrisburg whittled nearly 90 seconds off the clock clinging to a 38-35 lead, the Aces finally worked a steal into a Marcotte basket to cut the deficit to 38-37.
“We had to use some pressure defenses we haven’t used a lot this year,” Buss said. “We were able to get enough stops.”
After Saulsberry, who led Harrisburg with 18 points, scored to hike the Bulldog lead to 40-37, there was Marcotte again, with a rebound basket and free throw to tie the game at 40-all.
Brayden Stipp hit a free throw to put the Aces up 41-40 before Saulsberry slashed to the basket once again on a layup to put the Bulldogs back up 43-41, with 35.7 seconds remaining, setting the stage for Marcotte’s heroics.
The reason the Aces played so well against Saulsberry at the end was because “we had learned our lesson because the possession before we had given up the drive way too easy with no basket protection,” Buss said.
After Marcotte’s eventual game-winner, Harrisburg elected to play for the win without calling time out. “That can make it tough on the defense because you can’t get a set plan. But our guys clogged the paint and made them give it up. Then, we got enough of the rebound to make sure there was no put back.”
Marcotte paced Mount Carmel with 20 points and 10 rebounds. But the other half of the Aces twin towers, Justin Carpenter, was held in check by Harrisburg, scoring just four points.
“We had to use Justin on the front side of things to get the ball past half court and he had a mismatch in the post but we couldn’t get it to him because their help side was good,” Buss said. “He’s going to get a lot of attention like that, so it’s nice to have some other players who can step up.”
Mount Carmel, now 2-0 in tournament play, sizzled from underneath the arc line, hitting 15 of 25 shots for 60 percent. And the Aces won the rebound battle, 18-11.
The Aces have two night off now, not returning to Carmi until Friday when they face Big 8 Conference foe Mount Vernon, Indiana (3-9). The Wildcats lot to Carmi (12-4), 55-37, in the other game played on Tuesday.
ACES ASIDES… Noah Singer was unavailable off the bench for the Aces, out with flu and cold symptoms. He remained home… Mount Vernon, after beating Harrisburg, 63-59, on Monday, suffered through a 33 percent (13-of-39) shooting night against the host Bulldogs.