MOUNT CARMEL — Mount Carmel was unable to hold a halftime lead Monday as they lost to Princeton at home, 48-43, in the Lady Aces' Big Eight Conference opener in girls high school basketball action.

"They did a good job with their guards putting a lot of pressure on us," said Mount Carmel coach Tim Willis. "We'll continue to work and get better. Our kids did a lot of good things. There are also things they have to do better and there are things I have to do better."

The victory evens the Tigers’ record in the Big 8 Conference at 1-1, while the Lady Aces dropped to 0-1.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with our effort,” said Princeton coach Brittany Maners. “We got down, I think, 10 in the first half and we kept chipping away at it. Our effort is off the charts right now. I couldn’t be more proud of the way we played, especially in a tough environment.”

The game was going Mount Carmel's way for the majority of the first half. The Lady Aces built a 24-14 lead after a 10-0 run to start the second quarter. Kylie Applebey started it off with a basket inside. Haley Maguire knocked down a three followed by two free throws from Applebey before another three from Maguire extended the Lady Aces' lead by 10 at the five-minute mark in the second quarter.

"They played man the first half and we did a pretty good job," said Willis.

Princeton managed to cut the lead to 26-20 at the break.

"Coach Maners switched over to zone and we didn't do a very good job with it," said Willis. "We have to do a better job to get better sets and have more patience. I thought we rushed a lot of things. We need to take our time but a lot of it is to Princeton's credit. They're doing a really good job on ball pressure. We just have to do a little better job with that but it's part of the process."

Princeton (6-4 overall) trailed 26-20 at the half but scored the first three points of the second quarter and scored on their first possession of the third quarter.

"We let them get back into it in the second quarter when we had them down by 10," said Willis. "They were able to get back into the game at that point. That really was the start of the turning point and obviously, in the third quarter we couldn't do very well offensively."

The Tigers’ defense held the Lady Aces to just three field goals in the second half and they all came in the fourth quarter. Princeton also did not turn the ball over in the third quarter but forced Mount Carmel into five turnovers in the third.

"You can't go that long without scoring," said Willis. "I know we went the whole third quarter without a field goal. We can't do that and win conference games."

Mount Carmel led 28-22 after two free throws from Applebey. That’s when the Tigers went on a 9-0. It started with a pair of free throws from Hannah Sisk.

Kiare Young forced a turnover and scored on a layup followed by a three-pointer from Sisk and two free throws by Young. With 2:56 left to play in the third quarter the Tigers had turned a six-point deficit into a three-point lead.

“We made a few adjustments both offensive and defensively,” said Maners. “I think early on we got kind of got nervous to foul. We played a little passive on defense. We made some adjustments there and I thought we came out in the third quarter and really got it done.”

Mount Carmel managed only six free throws in the third. Four straight came from Maya Smith to give the Lady Aces a 32-31 lead. It was the last lead for Mount Carmel as the Tigers ended the third quarter scoring the last seven points of the quarter.

Keona Louis kicked things off with a basket near the rim. Sisk added her second three of the quarter and it was finished off by Young’s two free throws. Young and Sisk combined for 39 of the team’s points. Young finished 4-for-10 from the field and was 11-for-16 at the line for 20 points. Sisk was 6-for-9 from the field and 4-for-4 at the free throw line for 19 points.

“I was really excited that we had the ball in the right people’s hands at the right time,” said Maners. “I thought we attacked it the right way.”

The Aces will be back in action Thursday when they travel to Albion to take on Edwards County.

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