ROBINSON — The Mount Carmel Golden Aces will have the chance to reach the state finals for the second time in as many years after winning the Robinson Class 2A Sectional Friday night, 48-47, over Teutopolis in boys high school basketball action.
“We’ve been talking about relying on our experience all year,” said Mount Carmel coach Tyler Buss. “We’ve won games all different kinds of ways. We tell them to trust the schedule and trust what we’ve been through to get here and just believe you’re going to win and they believed all night tonight.”
With 35 seconds left and the game tied, Jackson Marcotte’s dribble-drive to the rim put the Aces on top 46-44.
“That’s just a special kid making a special play on a kid that a lot of people thought wouldn’t even be out here at this point of the season and he’s out there getting the game-winning basket,” said Buss. “Everything says, hold for one and play for overtime. He saw the opportunity and took it. Aces fans should be glad he’s on our team.”
Teutopolis led 44-41 with 2:19 after a run of four straight free throws. With 2:07 left, Blake Golden knocked down a 3 from the top of the key to tie the ball game.
“It was the biggest play of the game,” said Buss. “It’s the story of Blake. We run a play for someone else; he’s not open and [Golden is] standing there ready and willing to make a big shot and did he ever.
“It was a huge shot, and we probably don’t win this thing if he doesn’t knock that down. It got the game back tied, and our guys believed, at that point, to go get a stop to win the ballgame, and they were able to do that.”
The Aces were led in scoring by Brayden Stipp. The senior point guard was 1-for-5 shooting in the first half for two points but came out in the third quarter to score 10 points to help lead an Aces’ comeback. Stipp finished with 14 points on 4-for-10 shooting from the floor.
Stipp only had two points in the fourth quarter on two free throws, but both were perhaps the biggest two free throws of the game.
After Marcotte gave the Aces the lead, Mount Carmel’s defense was able to hold the Wooden Shoes scoreless on Teutopolis’ next possession. After a long pass from Austin Rager to Stipp, he was fouled and with 15.5 seconds, stepped to the foul line and knocked down both attempts to give the Aces a 48-44 lead.
“There’s nobody else I want at the line and nobody else I want the ball in their hands to make big plays late,” said Buss of Stipp. “He [Stipp] has been so steady for us all year. A guy, for the better part of two years, has always been that underlooked, forgotten guy and he’s a special player that continues to get better and better and impresses me more and more each game.”
The Shoes did not surrender as Lee Hardiek hit a 3 with 1.6 seconds left to bring Teutopolis to within a point.
Mount Carmel managed to lead Marcotte forward not allowing the Shoes to foul as the game ended and the celebration to begin.
The Aces will face Pinckneyville at approximately 7:30 p.m. at the Carbondale Super-Sectional at SIU Arena. The game will be played after the Class A super.
“You’ve got to have a will to win, and you saw that tonight,” said Marcotte, who finished with 10 points. “Last year at the super-sectional we played amazing. Tuesday we’ve got to show up ready to play. That’s the ticket to Peoria, and that’s the ultimate goal, to get to Peoria and play for a state semifinal, win that, then play for a state championship. Right now we’re going to take it one game at a time, and hopefully, we’ll be in Peoria next weekend.”
Contact Register Sports Editor Paul Wilcoxen at (618) 263-1004, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @paulwilcoxen