Golden Aces fall in title title
Chicago Orr proves too tough; Spartans beat Mount Carmel, 59-39
Mount Carmel and head coach Tyler Buss put together a “golden” season in 2016-17 as they reached the IHSA 2A championship game on Saturday night.

Unfortunately, the Aces on this night had to settle for “silver.”

Chicago Orr, the winner of the Red Division of the Chicago Public League and who dropped down to 2A last season, were far too athletic for the Aces in the title game.

The Spartans jumped out to and early lead and held it the rest of the night as they won the school's first state championship with a 59-39 victory to improve to 23-5 on the year.

For the Aces, it was an end of a great postseason and regular season journey.

Coach Buss and his bunch of hard working kids finished 29-5 on the season and won the school's first state tournament trophy in basketball since the Aces won the state championship in the single-class era back in 1927.

“Anytime you can do things that have never been done or it's been a long time, that's pretty special,” said Coach Buss. “This is something they will have forever. I couldn't ask for a more fun group to do it with.”

It had been 10-years since Mount Carmel reached the Sweet 16 in the final season of two-class hoops.

Know far more as a football power than a hardwood force, the Golden Aces program is definitely on the rise.

On Saturday night they got behind and never recovered.

Six-foot-eight junior Jackson Marcotte netted 17-points for the Aces while senior teammate 6-foot-8 forward Justin Carpenter added nine.

Austin Riger scored five-points while grabbing 11-rebounds.

But the story of the contest turned out to be the defensive end of the floor for Chicago Orr as they blanketed Marcotte and Company.

Forcing a 15-of-46 night (32.6 percent) from the floor overall and just 3-of-16 (18.8 percent) the Spartans shut down the Mount Carmel offensive attack.

In contrast, Orr was at 48.1 percent (25-of-52 overall) in the win in which they took an early lead that they made stand up.

Forwards Dannie Smith and Raekwon Drake punished Mount Carmel on the inside, as the each hit eight field goal attempts inside.

Not many times this season did the Aces get outrebounded but the Spartans had a small 32-31 edge on the glass.

Orr did the board work by committee as seven different players had two-rebounds or more.

“These guys deserved it, they worked hard. We felt we could did it this year. It was a good weekend for us. One thing we strive on is our pressure defense. We've seen before and we knew if our guards could pressure on the ball, we would be fine,” said Orr head coach Louis Adams. “We had two goals. One of our goals is go to the City playoffs and we lost to a good team. We said, now, that's over. State belongs to us. The guys worked hard, we were on a mission. We knew we could do it, it was just about staying focused. I told the guys, if you're good, I can't hide you.”

With a large contingency of fans on hand from Mount Carmel including Tyra Buss, the sister of Tyler and Illinois' all-time leading scorer in basketball, the faithful were excited early.

This excitement diminished quickly as the Spartans went on their first big run of the game to get the lead that they never relinquished.

Breaking the game's only tie (3-3) with a 13-1 run, Orr took control.

Drake got things cooking for his club, hitting three of the field goals in the run.

Samuel Williams, a 6-foot-3 senior forward, scored his only points of the game on a steal and fast break.

Reserve guard Brian Hernandez finished the surge with yet one more fast break off of a long rebound by Drake for a 16-4 lead.

Marcotte closed the first quarter with a score in the lane but the Aces were down 10 at first quarter's end.

Mount Carmel needed stops on the defensive end to get back into the contest but they couldn't slow down the Spartans.

The depth of the Spartans is one of their key attributes as they got eight-points off the pine from 6-foot-3 forward Emanuel O'Neal, with six of them coming in the second frame.

He grabbed an offensive board for a score, knocked down a pair of free throws and late in the quarter took a pass from Smith for a cut to the basket for points and a 26-12 lead with 1:26 left before the half.

Marcotte also scored six points in the quarter and added a score late in the half.

Smith took a pass from O'Neal to close the second quarter at 28-14 Spartans.

“We knew it needed to be a certain type of game this evening and unfortunately in the first half we didn't make enough shots. We had to come out and extend some pressure, we knew that was going to be tough,” said Coach Buss. “The pace of the game was where we wanted it in the first half. It just seemed early on they blocked a few shots and we went through a stretch where were afraid to get down in there and we settled for some shots, and we just didn't finish around the basket.”

Sophomore guard Brett Doan hit back-to-back 3-pointers for Mount Carmel in the third quarter and Marcotte scored on a drive in the lane that turned into a conventional three-point play, cutting the lead to just 37-29.

That, unfortunately, was as close as the Golden Aces would get.

A 9-2 run with a pair of scores from Smith and two huge plays for Orr that sent the message that the game was over.

Six-foot-six junior forward Tyron Mosely took a pass near the top of the circle and drove into the paint for a one-handed slam dunk.

Then Hernandez drained a 3-pointer on another assist from Smith and a 46-31 lead.

Spreading the floor in the final quarter, the quick Spartans shot lay ups and free throws the rest of the way before both coaches started emptying their respective benches.

A drive by Hernandez and a fast break lay in by Smith put the game out of reach for the Aces as Orr began celebrating its first ever championship.

Having reached the semifinals in 3A basketball in 2013 and again in 2014, the Spartans dropped in enrollment last season and into the 2A history books this year.

Mount Carmel's Carpenter, who will play his basketball next year at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, closed out his prep career with a fast break slam dunk in the final minute.

“He (Carpenter) is a guy who can effect the game in many ways. His scoring was down a little bit this year, but the other things he does, protecting the rim blocking shots, rebounding, finding his teammates,” said Coach Buss. “It is almost to a fault how good of a passer he is. He never once complained this year because he had the same goal as all of us did. To win as many games as possible.”

The Aces have a great nucleus of players returning next season for Coach Buss.

“We came here this weekend to win two games but we didn't that done. But when we look back on this, the experience from Thursday on, it was a special weekend,” said Coach Buss. “Our younger guys got a taste of this and hopefully it will help our off-season getting prepared for next season. We need to get bigger, stronger and faster and try to get back up here next year.”

Chicago Orr
Mount Carmel
Chicago Orr (59) – Mosely 3 0 0-0 6, Williams 1 0 0-0 2, Smith 7 1 2-2 19, Drake 8 0 1-2 17, Flute 0 0 0-0 0, Taylor 0 0 0-0 0, O'Neal 2 0 4-6 8, Bell 0 0 0-0 0, Hernandez 2 1 0-0 7, Harris 0 0 0-0 0, Gilkey 0 0 0-0 0, Ready 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-23, 3FG-2, FT-7-11, PF-13.

Mount Carmel (39) – Carpenter 4 0 0-0 9, Marcotte 6 0 5-7 17, Stipp 0 1 0-0 3, Doan 0 2 0-0 6, Rager 2 0 1-2 5, Golden 0 0 0-0 0, Durham 0 0 0-0 0, Brown 0 0 0-0 0, Mercando Figueroa 0 0 0-0 0, Berberich 0 0 0-0 0, Peterson 0 0 0-0 0, Gould 0 0 0-0 0, Merritt 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-12, 3FG-3, FT-6-9, PF-12.

Fouled Out – None.
Technical Fouls – None.