MOUNT CARMEL
BY JACK BULLOCK
Last season the Mount Carmel Golden Aces were off the charts when it came to reaching their potential.

Head coach Tyler Buss saw his kids put it all together to reach the state championship game and haul in hardware for the trophy room.

Behind ABV 2A “Player of the Year” Jackson Marcotte and some team first play, the Aces finished second in the state and 29-5 overall.

They won the program's first sectional championship since 1921 and they beat some teams in their Indiana conference that they had never defeated.

All things considered, it was a great run.

Things were looking good going into this season with some kids returning with experience along with Marcotte getting ready for his senior season.

But the 6-foot-7 forward tore his ACL in the spring and his availability for the season is in question.

Coach Buss is optimistic that he will be ready in February.

Until that time the others are going to have to rally around this coach and work hard to make up for a lot of missing points and rebounds.

Also missing from last season's run is graduated senior Justin Carpenter, also an ABV first team selection who is attending Southeast Missouri State University.

But the ones returning are also experienced after being a part of last season's Peoria run.

Three starters are back, including senior guard 6-foot-1 Brayden Stipp, who had a great junior campaign.

Two sophomores who are now juniors also return; 6-foot-2 Bret Doan and 6-foot-4 Austin Rager.

So when it comes to veteran minutes, those three will be important to the early going of the season, especially against this brutal schedule of games.

Coach Buss is looking to a pair of seniors who were off the bench last season and their roles will be more important this go around.

Blake Golden, a 6-foot-4 senior, was the first one off of the Aces bench last winter.

Five-foot-nine senior Dawson Brown was also in the reserve unit for Mt. Carmel.

This coach also has some others of note; 6-foot-3 senior Brayden Peterson, 5-foot-11 junior Logan Durham, and two freshman; 6-foot-6 Kaleb Applebey and 5-foot-8 Beau Stipp.

All will get a chance when the Aces open the season with four games in 36 hours at the Lawrence County Capital Classic the day after Thanksgiving.

“We return a lot of talent from a team that had a great season year ago. We will have a different look this year with the losses of Carpenter and Marcotte but feel that we have a lot of pieces that can fill in to replace their production,” said Coach Buss, who is 109-73 in seven seasons at Mt. Carmel. “Brayden Stipp has been such a rock solid PG for us, he will continue to be that for us. I expect his playmaking ability to go to another level this season. Austin Rager has the ability to be one of the best players on the floor each night for us and we need him to be that consistently. Bret Doan has continued to add things to his game and is a dynamic offensive weapon for us. Blake Golden has really expanded his game as well. Dawson Brown is a kid that contributed a year ago and can really shoot the basketball.”

OUTLOOK – The Aces would have been a preseason favorite to return to Peoria for most prognosticators this season if it weren't for their key injury. For a school that is not known for its basketball program, the attitude at this school is beginning to change. Buss is 14-wins shy of the all-time coaching victories mark at the school, which explains the early statement. Marcotte is the key but this team has a lot of quality players. Overlooking Mt. Carmel because of his absence won't be a wise move. They are still one of the top teams in the South and when he returns they will be that much better. They will be one of the teams to beat when the state tournament starts.

MOUNT CARMEL
N24-25 Lawrence Co. "Capital Classic" J9 Princeton (IN.)

N28

Evansville (IN.) Day School J12 Boonville (IN.)
D1 @ Evansville (IN.) North J15-20 Carmi-White Co. Invitational
D5 Robinson J23 @ Ft. Branch (IN.) Gibson Southern
D8 Vincennes (IN.) Lincoln J30 @ Lawrenceville
D12 @ Flora F3 Benton "Rich Herrin Classic"
D16 Olney Richland F6 @ Mt. Vernon (IN.)
D21-23 Toyota Classic F9 @ Jasper (IN.)
J2 Evansville (IN.) Central F16 @ Washington (IN.)
J6 @ Eldorado F19-23 IHSA Regional TBD