OAKLAND CITY, Ind. — If it weren’t for the fact that Evansville Reitz has such a talented team, Mt. Carmel boys coach Tyler Buss would probably have felt worse about his team’s 79-64 loss in the opening round of the Toyota Teamwork Classic at Oakland City University’s Johnson Center Monday night.
But they do, and Buss didn’t.
“It was a pretty decent effort by our kids tonight,” said Buss of the Pool B loss to Reitz (4-0). “It’s something to build on. (Reitz) has the most offensive firepower we’ll see on our schedule.”
The Golden Aces led by 10 points late in the second quarter, 30-20, before Reitz put the clamps on defensively. The final eight points of the half brought Reitz to within 30-22 at the break.
Then, with most of the Panthers’ 16 steals coming in the second half, they gradually pulled away from Mt. Carmel (6-4).
For a while, though, the Aces had Reitz’ number, beating the Panthers to the baseline consistently and holding their own in transition.
“We’re finally starting to see that we don’t have to dribble through three or four guys. We can invite that trap, then swing it and hit the middle,” Buss said. “When we started doing that stuff we looked like we knew what we were doing out there.”
Even after Reitz seemed to be in control at 54-44, the Aces made one final run, outscoring the Panthers 11-3 to pull to within two points, 57-55.
But, after Riley Raber’s 3-point field goal put the heat on, Reitz recovered with a nine-point run of its own.
“We did a good job of making some runs at them and made them work for the win,” Buss said.
Levi Laws scored 14 points, the final tally elevating him to a spot in the coveted 1,000-point club at the Hilltop. Laws, the 12th name on the boy’s side and 19th overall to make it, joins Reece Metcalf who scored his 1,000th point earlier this season.
Metcalf finished with 15 to lead a balanced scoring attack. Also hitting double figures were Austin Thompson with 12 points and C.J. Diel with 11.
Also in Pool B, Gibson Southern (1-2) picked up its first win of the season with a 63-58 win over South Central (1-5), who will play Mt. Carmel next on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., again at the OCU arena.
Mason Lankford led the Titans to the win with 27 points.
• In Pool A play, tournament newcomer Castle (3-2) defeated Princeton (3-2), 64-51, pinning the Tigers with their second straight loss.
Wood Memorial (2-3) used a full-court press that pulled Lawrenceville (1-5) into a running game, one the Trojans won, 60-49, over their Illinois opponents, making their first tourney appearance.