Lady Aces take step forward with rout of Robinson

Mount Carmel senior Mollie Dardeen drives toward the basket. Dardeen scored 11 points in the Lady Aces victory over Robinson on Tuesday night.

MOUNT CARMEL, Ill. -- As the season winds down for the Mount Carmel Lady Aces they continue their pursuit of readying themselves for the postseason and correcting their flaws. They took another step toward that with their dominant 58-29 victory over Robinson on Tuesday night at Mount Carmel High School.

It was the second time the schools have met, with the Lady Aces (10-10) defeating the Maroons (4-17) 65-37 in the first matchup. It turned out to be a very similar result in the second meeting, with Mount Carmel controlling all facets of the ballgame.

Things didn't start particularly well for either team early on. The score was 1-0 in favor of Mount Carmel for nearly three minutes with both teams playing sloppy. The Lady Aces finally got in a rhythm after a three-pointer by junior Kassidy Drone, a spark which would help push their way to a 15-6 first quarter lead.

Mount Carmel's press was effective early, forcing turnovers and converting them into points. Furthermore, Mount Carmel used their height advantage early and often, while also making some nice backdoor cuts for baskets.

Lady Ace senior Mollie Dardeen picked up two fouls in the second quarter, but the Lady Aces maintained their solid play. Sophomore Madi Smith and senior Sela Lashbrook filled the void in Dardeen's absence and performed well. The the halftime lead would increase to 38-17.

Their dominance continued out of the gate. Dardeen highlighted an 11-0 Mount Carmel run to begin the third quarter. The senior big scored five of the Lady Aces 11 points in the stretch.

With a 30-plus point advantage, Mount Carmel played reserves for much of the remainder of the game, coasting to a 29-point victory. Valuable varsity minutes could bode well for the underclassmen reserves as their careers, and this season continue. Coach Willis wants them to exhibit what they're capable of when called upon as their experience continues to build.

"We threw a lot of kids out there to get them some minutes, rest some of the girls there late," coach Willis said. "It helps us down the road, [getting] a lot of girls some varsity experience. We have to execute better, we didn't execute well in the fourth quarter. Sometimes it happens in a game like that but you just have to get better. I told the girls on that one possession, if you get a chance to play, go execute, because you can show the coaches what you can do. You don't want to throw that chance away with just being casual."

The Lady Aces scoring was remarkably well-balanced, including six who had at least six points. Dardeen highlighted the group, scoring 11 points despite her early foul trouble. The second highest, Drone and Smith with nine points each.

With their size advantage, coach Willis used the game as an opportunity to work on some things, such as guard post-ups, primarily for Drone and sophomore Rylie Webb. It appeared effective at times, though it's something that's still a work in practice. It's a new look they've shown in-game, but they've been working on it in practice for some time.

"We're putting some of that in to work on it down the road," coach Willis said. "It's one of those things we thought we'd have an opportunity because of their size. I thought Kassidy did a good job with it, I thought Rylie was a little tenative but it flowed a little better for her late. A lot of it is similar sets, it's just where you put the kids. There'll be games where we post guards and you have to practice it in a game situation, not just practice."

All in all it was a good bounce back win for Mount Carmel. The Lady Aces got back to their winning ways and will benefit from the positive momentum gained in games such as these going forward.

"I think overall we got a lot of things accomplished, got to try some new things," coach Willis said. "It was a good night for us."

Mount Carmel will travel to face Washington next, on Thursday (Dec. 10) starting at 5:30 p.m. The Hatchets enter the game 12-4 and it's likely to be another tough test for the Lady Aces. Following the game against Washington, Mount Carmel will have the Eldorado Tournament starting on Saturday night.

"Washington on Thursday night. They're having an awfully good season. They have several bigs, so our size advantage tonight will be totally opposite on Thursday night. Then we have two games on Saturday against AJ and Carmi on Saturday night to start the Eldorado Tournament.

MC -- 15 23 14 6 -- 58

R -- 6 11 8 4 -- 29

Mount Carmel scoring: Dardeen 4 2 11, Madi Smith 3 3 9, Drone 4 0 9, Webb 3 1 8, Lashbrook 3 1 7, Maya Smith 2 4 6, McPherson 1 1 3, Jada Smith 1 0 2, Wright 1 0 2, Kell 0 1 1.

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