Lawrenceville drops Mt. Carmel from the line
Fouls "mount" for Aces late; Indians take advantage, win 90-74

MOUNT CARMEL - When Lawrenceville and Mount Carmel get together on a basketball court it is usually a defensive physical game that ends up going down to the final minutes before the outcome is decided.

While Thursday nights contest was very physical, defense for the most part took the night off.

Taking advantage of the foul plagued host Aces, coach Paul Higginbotham's Indians took care of business in the second half by putting away Mount Carmel from the foul line with a 90-74 triumph.

Overcoming their own foul difficulties, the Indians improved to 15-2 on the season.

Trailing and choosing to commit fouls at the end, MC sent Lawrenceville to the free throw line enough in the final two quarters to give Lawrenceville its highest point total of the season.

"If you would have told me before the game that we would score 90 points tonight I would have beat you anything you wanted," said Higginbotham. "Usually when we play Mount Carmel it is a defensive struggle but tonight it was a game where they tried to get back in the game by fouling and we hit enough free throws at the end to put the game away."

Having four players in double-figures, Lawrenceville took advantage of the fouling tactics in the final frame to pick up the non-conference win.

Using an inside game of Jordan Hovermale and Wade Collins and the outside offensive attack of Kyle Johnson, Rhett Funk and Logan Paris, Lawrenceville countered the inside strength of Mount Carmel by showing quickness at all five positions.

Despite getting eight 3-pointers (25-points) from Caleb Knepper and 17-points from Justin Lewis, Mount Carmel saw its record slip to 6-5 on the season.

The smaller Indians won the battle on the glass, outrebounding the Aces 31-22.

"Their big kids took the ball at us tonight and we didn't do a very good job of keeping them off of the boards," said Mount Carmel coach Ryan Haywood about Lawrenceville's inside players. "We just didn't finish defensive stops tonight because we didn't rebound well enough to keep them from getting second shots. Playing against a veteran ballclub like Lawrenceville that plays a lot of seniors you just can't win that way."

The first half was more like the defensive rivalry game that was expected on this rare Thursday night contest between these former North Egypt Conference rivals.

Lawrenceville put together the first big offensive run in the first quarter that carried over into the second period.

After seeing Knepper jump out to a good start for the Golden Aces by hitting three first quarter 'treys' to stake MC to an 11-6 lead, Lawrenceville scored the games' next 13-points.

Hovermale got going in the paint, using his quickness around the basket to pick up a couple of scores in the streak.

His bucket on an offensive rebound just before the first horn made it 17-11 Lawrenceville.

The lead reached 22-13 with 6:19 to play before intermission when Johnson canned a 3-pointer from the right wing.

But Mount Carmel for the first time in the game started to get more people involved in the offense, especially Lewis in the lane.

After another 'trifecta' by Knepper, Lewis scored seven points in an end of the quarter run that produced Mount Carmel's first lead since the opening moments.

Lewis converted conventional three-point play on the right blocks that cut the Indians advantage to 25-23 with 2:49 to go. Collins picked up his second foul on the play as the personals began to mount for both teams.

After a Hovermale rebound and put-back after his own miss, Mount Carmel guard Jensen Dardeen provided some much needed spark.

Dardeen scored on back-to-back possessions, fueled by a pair of Lawrenceville turnovers.

When his fast break lay in went in while being fouled by Jordan Kull, the Aces grabbed a 29-27 lead with just over a minute before intermission.

Even though he failed to convert the charity toss, Mount Carmel had battled back to take the lead.

Hovermale again hit the boards to even the game with an offensive putback.

His shot beat the buzzer to send the teams to the lockers at 29-all.

Five turnovers in the second quarter by the Indians gave the Aces some easy points.

But Coach Higginbotham's club cleaned up their act, finishing the game with just 10 violations.

For the most part, Lawrenceville and Mount Carmel traded offensive jabs like a pair heavyweight boxing contenders in the third quarter.

But it was the Indians that gradually pulled away late in the third to take control of this bout.

Hovermale continued his reign in the lane by scoring ten points in the quarter.

His basket on an assist by Funk sent Knepper to the bench with his third foul with 5:51 left.

MC's Aaron Hanley scored three-straight baskets for the Aces in the final 3:36 of the quarter to help keep his club close.

His final score of the quarter on a drive in the middle of the lane cut the Indians lead to 49-48 with just under two minutes to go.

But Hovermale finished off the frame with a pair of baskets, making it 53-48 heading to the fourth quarter.

Scoring the first eight points of the final frame, Lawrenceville got the separation that they needed to eventually force Mount Carmel to start the free throw shooting parade at the end of the game.

A 3-pointer by Funk and a score in the lane by Collins pushed the lead to 58-48.

At just 5-foot-7, Funk more than held his own against a much bigger Mount Carmel lineup.

"He (Funk) is all hustle out their on the floor and he is a nice compliment player to Kull," added Higginbotham. "Coming off the bench, he can defend and knock down a 3-pointer for us when we need one."

Speaking of Kull (pronounced Cool) Mount Carmel's Lewis lost his 'cool' for a moment and after he picked up his third foul of the game, he was assessed a technical foul with 6:19 to play.

Johnson converted both free throws to give the Indians some much-needed breathing room.

Another Mount Carmel player stepped up and scored some points on his own personal run.

Steven Alka scored six points while trying to get his team back close.
Two of the baskets closed the gap to ten.

However neither he nor his teammates could come up with enough defensive stops to cut the lead under double-digits the remainder of the contest.

Had the Indians not struggled early in the fourth quarter from the free throw line, the final score would have been more than it turned out.

In a three possession stretch, Coach Higginbotham's squad hit just 2-of-6 from the line which gave the Aces a bit of hope.

However as most good teams do, the Indians got on track to close out the win.

Connecting on 15-of-16 in the final 2:10, Lawrenceville left Mount Carmel with victory against a team that has shown promise but have yet to reach its best stride.

"We've got balanced scoring for most of the season and we have four players averaging double-figures for us," said Higginbotham, whose club improved to 15-2 on the season with the win. "They (Mount Carmel) took some things away from Logan (Paris) early and some other kids were hitting tonight and stepped up and got the job done for us. We felt comfortable in what we were getting offensively and we felt if we could get some stops early we could build on a lead."

The Indians were pretty sharp from the field on the night, making good on 29-of-51 overall (57 percent) and hit half of their 12 3-point attempts (6-of-12).

Mount Carmel was 25-of-58 as a whole, 8-of-19 from behind the arc with Knepper hitting all eight of the 'trifecta.'

After Knepper and Lewis, Mount Carmel got 12-points from Hanley and eight each from Dardeen and Alka.

"Our guards did a good job tonight attacking the basket but it wasn't our offense that got us in trouble tonight," added Haywood. "Defensively we just didn't talk out there and get the stops that we needed. They have two guards (Johnson and Funk) that are double-threats; they can drive around you or step out and hit shots and they caused us problems trying to guard them."

Lawrenceville's Johnson led all scorers with 27-points while Hovermale matched Knepper with 25.

Wade Collins tossed home 14 points and Paris added 13 important points, which included 9-of-10 free throws in the final minutes.

Lawrenceville jumps back into Little Illini Conference action Friday night at home as the Indians host Cumberland.

Mount Carmel host Evansville (IN.) Day School on Saturday.

Mount Carmel

Lawrenceville (90) - Kull 0 0 0-0 0, Novsek 0 0 0-0 0, Paris 2 0 9-10 13, Funk 1 2 1-2 9, Griggs 1 0 0-0 2, Collins 4 0 6-9 14, Johnson 4 4 7-10 27, Hovermale 11 0 3-3 25.
2FG-23, 3FG-6, FT-26-34, PF-18.
Mount Carmel (74) - Buss 1 0 0-1 2, Dardeen 3 0 2-5 8, Alka 3 0 2-2 8, Hanley 6 0 0-0 12, Deisher 0 0 0-0 0, McFarland 0 0 0-0 0, Ford 0 0 0-0 0, Lewis 4 0 9-9 17, Croft 0 0 2-2 2, Knepper 0 8 1-2 25.
2FG-17, 3FG-8, FT-16-21, PF-26.
Fouled Out - Lewis, Alka - Mount Carmel.
Technical Fouls - Lewis, Mount Carmel.