MOUNT CARMEL
BY JACK BULLOCK
For a school much more well known for its football prowess, the hardwood Golden Aces have been turning some heads of late.
Coach Tyler Buss reloaded from a good team in 2014-15 with new faces that turned into another regional titlist last season.
The better news of all of this success is that most of the team that lost to Teutopolis at the 2A Flora Sectional last season are back.
Mount Carmel finished 18-13 last season, but they were a pretty salty 15-3 against Illinois teams.
In case you were wondering, the Aces have been a part of the Big Eight Conference comprised of all Indiana schools except themselves.
The accomplishments from last season included their third consecutive Carmi-White County Invitational Tournament championship along with a third place finish at the always brutal Capital Classic. They brought home their third regional title in the past four seasons.
Coach Buss, who has a pretty famous younger sister who plays basketball at Indiana University, begins his sixth season as the head coach of his Alma Mater (2004 graduate) with an 80-68 record. Again, that won-loss is misleading considering the severe competition that the Golden Aces on a yearly basis in Hoosier Land.
Two of the returning players have committed to playing basketball at the next level already.
Six-foot-eight senior Justin Carpenter was an ABV 2A Second Team pick last season after averaging 18.1 p.p.g. And 8.8 r.p.g.
After entertaining several offers, Carpenter has committed to D-I Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau (MO.).
His size and athletic ability makes him an incredibly tough defensive matchup.
The fact that he also was second team all-state and all-conference in the Big Eight is very impressive.
Six-foot-seven junior Jackson Marcotte is no slouch, having now started for four consecutive seasons for the Mount Carmel varsity.
He was just a fraction below Carpenter on the stat sheet, averaging 18.4 points and 8.6 rebounds.
Marcotte has had some D-I offers of his own, but as a junior there should be additional suitors for his services in the weeks and months ahead.
They are truly a impressive set of Twin Towers in the paint for Mount Carmel and Coach Buss.
Offensively the Aces shouldn't have a great deal of difficulty lighting the lamp with sophomore Austin Rager, a 6-foot-3 guard, also able to produce offensively.
Rager netted 13.4 points, snagged 5.2 rebounds and shared the ball to the tune of 2.1 assists per outing.
As a freshman last winter, he only got better as the year went on as he was a big factor in the Aces post-season push to a regional crown.
According to Coach Buss, Rager had a huge summer and much is expected from him.
Brayden Stipp, a 6-foot junior, tossed home 6.3 points a night and grabbed what was left off the rebounds.
He also was generous to his teammates, handing out 1.7 assists per contest.
Sophomore Bret Doan, a 6-foot guard added 4.2 points to the sheet while 6-foot-3 junior Blake Golden added a handful of crooked numbers to the totals.
Coach Buss will have 6-foot-2 sophomore Noah Singer tuned up and ready to perform in the early going of the season along with 5-foot-10 junior Dawson Brown.
Six-foot sophomore Jaden Merritt and 5-foot-11 sophomore Logan Durham could both “bull” their way into varsity minutes.
The graduation losses were minimal this club probably can't wait to head to Lawrence County this week for the annual slug-fest that is known as the Capital Classic.
“We have a group that no doubt has very high expectations for what we can accomplish this season. This was a young and inexperienced group last year that has not only gotten a year older, but has really put the time in to improve in a lot of areas,” said Coach Buss. “Offensively we should have a team that can score in a variety of ways. We are fortunate enough to have a lineup that can shoot the ball well from the perimeter and we know we have guys that can get to the rim and score at the block. I also look for our tempo to be much faster than a year ago. In Carpenter and Marcotte we will have two of the best players on the floor each night, and with the emergence of Austin Rager this summer, we certainly have a lot of weapons. It will be important for our role guys to play well on a consistent basis. Our chance to make a run will come on the defensive end. We have to be better on that end and it will be a major emphasis as we go forward. I believe we have a group that is committed to defending and if we can do that night in and night out we will have a chance in just about every game we play.”
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