MOUNT CARMEL — Tim Willis is hoping the nine-day layoff before games will be a benefit for his team as they open action at the Toyota Teamwork Gibson County tournament Thursday at home against Mount Vernon (IN).

"We've been using this time to rest," said Willis of his team's more than a week off since their last ballgame. "We've got a lot of injuries right now. We've got a couple girls still not doing anything yet."

Willis says the time off has been beneficial for resting. The Lady Aces returned to practice Monday with a couple kids still not practicing.

"Right now we're the walking wounded," said Willis. "We've just got to get healthy."

During this time, Willis also says the team has put some new things into the offense to better finetune their approach.

"We're getting ready for the second half of the season," said Willis. "That's really what we've done with this time, just rested, get our minds set right the right way, and put in a few things for the second half of the season."

Mount Carmel opens the tournament against the Wildcats. Mount Vernon is a conference rival the Lady Aces will see again on Jan. 4.

"It will be a little different playing a conference team even though it won't be a conference game," said Willis. "That's what really makes it tough because obviously, you want to win the conference game, so how much we'll show, we haven't decided on that yet. We may be a little vanilla and save some stuff for the conference game."

Last year the Lady Aces opened with a win against Mount Vernon (IN) but lost to the eventual Class A state champions in Indiana, Wood Memorial, in the second pool-play game before falling to Castle on the final day.

The Lady Aces are currently 8-4 on the season. Mount Carmel's longest winning streak is three, which was established at the start of the season when the Lady Aces opened 3-0. Their longest losing streak has been just two games which occurred during the final two games at the Robinson tournament after Thanksgiving.

"I think we've played overall pretty well," said Willis. "We have a good understanding, makeup of our club. We understand the roles that everyone is filling for us. That's always a positive.

"At this point of the season, we're pretty happy with what we're seeing from the kids and how they're developing and maturing and preparing for the last part of the season."

Thursday's girls' game will follow the boys, who play North Posey at 5:30 p.m. On Friday, both the boys and the girls' teams for Mount Carmel will travel to Gibson Southern to take on the Titans.

The girls will play first Friday starting at 5:30 p.m. with the boys to follow at approximately 7:15 p.m.

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