Basketball

FLORA, Ill. --- Coaches and area fans have the matchup they wanted. The two tallest teams in the IHSA Class 2A Regional tournament field here will meet in the championship game.

Edwards County (20-6), the coaches’ No. 3 seed in the sub-sectional, defeated Fairfield, 49-42, on Wednesday night in the semifinals to advance to Friday’s title tilt against second-seeded Mount Carmel (24-4), a 62-41 winner over Flora on Tuesday. The winner will join other regional champions from Eldorado, Newton and Pana in West Frankfort for the Sectional tournament next week.

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MOUMT CARMEL, Ill. – Mount Carmel came within 1.6 seconds of winning its first-ever Big 8 Conference boys’ basketball championship. Thanks to Billy Fleetwood, the Golden Aces will have to wait a little longer.

Fleetwood hit two free throws with 1.6 seconds left to give Washington a 58-57 victory in a winner-take-all game on Friday night at the Hilltop. Mount Carmel (23-4, 5-1 in Big 8) had its’ 11-game winning streak snapped when Justin Carpenter’s 50-foot heave fell short at the buzzer.

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INA, Ill. – If Belleville West Junior High School does go on to win the state junior high school boys basketball title, the Westerners will long remember their quarterfinal game on Saturday against Mount Carmel – a game that tested them as perhaps they had not yet been in an undefeated season.

Mount Carmel held an improbable 26-17 lead at halftime. However, things changed in the second half as West began to play more like a 24-0 record would indicate. They overwhelmed the Junior Aces 38-13 in the second half to advance on with a 55-39 victory in the SIJHSAA Class L state tournament at Rend Lake College.

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Often times, championship games will come down to one or two good plays that will decide the outcome. Unfortunately for the Mount Carmel Lady Aces, Newton made two big play inside the game’s final two minutes that swung the IHSA Class 2A regional championship in its favor. From there, the No. 2 sub-sectional seed Lady Eagles held on for a 53-48 win on Thursday night here.

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MOUNT CARMEL, Ill. – The stage is set.

Mount Carmel defeated Mount Vernon, Indiana, 78-58, in Big 8 Conference play Tuesday night, ensuring a winner-take-all regular-season finale against the other 5-0 team in the league – Washington – on Feb. 17 at the Hilltop.

In their 14 years in the league, the Golden Aces have never won more than three Big 8 games in one year. Even with that enormous monkey on their back, the ninth-ranked Aces jetted out to a 19-7 first-quarter lead and never looked back.

Mount Carmel (23-3, 5-0 in Big 8) won with perhaps its most balanced attack of the year. Five players finished in double figures.

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