Smith shines in Lady Aces heartbreaking loss at Washington

January 12, 2019

WASHINGTON, Ind. -- Trailing by seven with four minutes left against a 13-4 Washington team, it seemed as if the game was set to be out of Mount Carmel’s reach, but the Lady Aces responded.

The Lady Aces (10-11) responded with 10-2 run to take a 45-44 lead with 58 seconds left -- their first lead of the game. Sophomore Rylie Webb had just hit an and-one to give them the lead. It appeared as if momentum was trending towards Mount Carmel -- unfortunately they caught a bad break. Mount Carmel senior Mollie Dardeen was called for a block on a 50/50 block-charge call with 40 seconds remaining, which the Hatchets (13-4) converted plus the foul to retake the lead at 47-45.

Mount Carmel couldn’t muster enough offense after the dagger and fell 48-45 on Thursday night at Washington despite a really nice night by Mount Carmel sophomore Maya Smith. Smith did her best to rally the Lady Aces back, due to perhaps her best shooting night of the season. Smith nailed a couple second half treys en route to a team-high 15 points.

The first half was an entirely different story. The Lady Aces really struggled on the glass, giving countless offensive rebounds and second chance opportunities to Washington. They would trail by as much as 13 just before taking a 26-16 deficit to the half.

Head coach Tim Willis said his halftime speech may have been the most animated he’s been, challenging his girls to step up to challenge and rally back. They responded and showed a glimpse of what they’re capable of in the second half.

“It’s the first time that I got after them, I got after them pretty hard,” coach Willis said. ”[I said] it was time to step up if you wanted to play varsity basketball. You don’t want to do that too many times because you never know which way it’s going to go. This time the kids reacted the way you’d hope and came out and played hard.”

They quickly eliminated the deficit and tied the game at 33-33 at the end of the third quarter, setting the stage for the dramatic fourth quarter.

Even after the dagger they had a chance to tie the game but Smith just wasn’t able to finish through a pair of Hatchet defenders on a layup attempt.

“We got the look we wanted, we had some options out of it,” coach Willis said. “Maya thought she could take it to the hole and just missed the shot, can’t blame her for that. I think our sets were a lot more crisp in the second half.”

Despite the loss, it may have been the best game Mount Carmel’s played all season. Smith stepped up and knocked down some clutch shots, Webb’s crucial and-one through contact was a winning play and they came back from behind on several different occasions. They’re starting to show the experience they’re gaining. Their defense was arguably even more impressive than their shooting. Their zone defense caused fits for Washington for much of the game, completely disrupting their offensive rhythm at times and forcing turnovers, particularly late in the fourth quarter.

Mount Carmel sophomore Madi Smith and Webb were both impressive down the stretch as well. Madi Smith pulled down a couple big time offensive rebounds and made a tough and-one to pull the game closer in the late stretch. Madi Smith finished with nine points and Webb scored 10 points, joining Maya Smith as the second Lady Ace in double-digits scoring.

Coach Willis this game will appear as a building block for Mount Carmel as the season winds down, as there was certainly a lot of good to take away from the second half.

“I told them after the game, now you did that, but if you don’t build on it, it doesn’t do you any good,” coach Willis said. “Hopefully the weather holds out for us and we’re able to play again Saturday.”

Their games on Saturday may be in serious jeopardy due to expected inclement weather, but they’re expected to play Anna-Jonesboro (16-5) at 1 p.m. and Carmi (9-10) at 7 p.m. in the Eldorado Tournament. Assuming they’ll still play, coach Willis has an idea of what they’ll face from the two teams.

“We’re going to play AJ, they’re a team that plays awfully hard,” coach Willis spoke of his Saturdays matchups. “Coach has got them pressing, playing zone and man to man. They have four to five kids that can score. They’re not exceptionally big but they’re pretty quick and don’t wear down very much. We’re going to have to battle there. Then we play Carmi. Of course the Smith and Lewis girls are their two best players. We control that and we’ll be ok, but you never know how that’s going to come out.”

They’ll return home on Jan. 24 against Vincennes Lincoln for Senior Night. The JV will begin the night at 5:30 p.m. with the varsity to follow.

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