MOUNT CARMEL — One goal for Mount Carmel head coach Tyler Buss is for his team to play in as many championship games this season as possible. Earlier this season, the Aces lost in overtime of the Capital Classic against Teutopolis.
This week, a second opportunity to play in a championship game awaits as the Aces will compete once again at the Toyota Gibson County Teamwork Tournament.
“We talk to our guys a lot about putting ourselves in a position to play for trophies,” said Buss. “It sounds kind of silly but when you have a team that wants to advance to a regional and wants to win a sectional and advance, the more you can kind of put yourself in those win-or-go-home situations the better.
“We’ve talked to our guys about embarrassing that moment but also working hard to get to those spots because the more you can put yourself in those scenarios, the better off you’re going to be.”
The Aces open at home Thursday against North Posey. It’s part of a doubleheader at the Hilltop. The boys will play at 5:30 p.m. followed by the girls’ game against Mount Vernon (IN) at 7:15 p.m.
“It’s always exciting when you get into tournament play,” said Buss. “We’ve had some good spirited practice here. We’re definitely looking forward to playing a game at home in this tournament.”
The Vikings — out of the Pocket Athletic Conference — is 4-1 this season. North Posey opened the season 3-0 with victories against Evansville Central (71-55), Mount Vernon (IN) (82-65), and Evansville Day (63-55).
“They definitely present a lot of challenges,” said Buss. “They shoot the ball extremely well. They’re very well coached. Our guys know they’ve got to be ready to play pretty much each night in this tournament.”
North Posey’s first loss came at the hands of Evansville Mater Dei as the Wildcats earned a 72-66 overtime victory against the Vikings.
“We know that, if we go down and play well for two games, we’ll have a chance to play for a championship,” said Buss. “If we don’t play well we could easily be playing in the last-place game. Our guys know that and our coaches know that. It’s up to us to get them ready to go and hopefully we’ll play well for two games and put ourselves in a good spot.”
The Aces are 6-4 after Saturday’s win at home against Olney. It was the second victory for Mount Carmel against the Tigers this season. The win also snapped a two-game losing streak for the Aces.
“We knew there would be some, I don’t know if you want to call it growing pains because we’ve got so much back but it’s a different group,” said Buss. “It’s guys that have different roles than they had in the past. We kind of expected to be a little up and down.
“This last week has been really good for us. We’ve been able, to be honest with ourselves in terms of watching the film and knowing what needs to improve. The guys are starting to buy into doing some of the little things that they might not of had to do a year ago. Now they have to do to be successful.”
After Thursday’s home game, the Aces will travel to Gibson Southern High School Friday to take on the Titans, who enter the tournament with a 3-1 mark.
“We’re a little familiar with them but at the same time, they’ve only played four games this year,” said Buss. “They’re a little bit of a mystery team. They’re a team that’s well coached. They have a lot of guys back from last year so I’m sure there’s a lot of carryover for them as well.”
Friday’s game against Gibson Southern is a 7:15 start.