Mount Carmel started out fast and finished strong to defeat Carencro 75-55 at home in the regional round of the Class 5A playoffs Monday night.

“It’s always good to hold down our home court,” Mount Carmel coach Kevin McGlathery said.

“We just made sure we controlled the ball. (Carencro’s) got an athletic team, and they are really quick in the passing lanes, so we had to take care of the ball and take good, clean shots.

“I think we did a good job of that tonight.”

After going into halftime with a single-digit deficit, the No. 12-seeded Bears (20-10) tried to keep themselves within striking distance, but No. 5 Mount Carmel (24-8) outscored them 33-22 in the second half to seal the victory.

Paige Franckiewicz led the the Cubs with 23 points on 5-of-8 shooting on 3-pointers and added nine rebounds. Taylor Berry also had 20 points and four steals.

“I just think our whole team was so pumped for today’s game,” Franckiewicz said. “We try to come out with this killer instinct … and that’s what we did tonight.”

The Cubs’ pressure defense forced Carencro into nine first-quarter turnovers (including four steals by guard Kristen Nuss), which helped Mount Carmel sprint out to a 21-2 lead.

The Cubs’ defense, along with a combined 18 points from Franckiewicz and Berry, pushed the Mount Carmel lead to 28-11 by the end of the first half.

Nuss finished with 14 points, making all six of her shots from the field, and added six rebounds, four assists and six steals.

“We just came out with a lot of energy,” McGlathery said of the defending 5A champions.

“I know when we come out with a lot of energy like that, our team is really hard to deal with.

“We got a lot of contributions from different people on the roster, so it was definitely a team win.”

After their slow start, the Bears leaned on the scoring of forwards Taylor Ceasar and Alysha Guidry to get them back in the game.

The duo combined for 17 of Carencro’s 22 points in the second quarter and Ceasar’s 35-foot 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded cut the Mount Carmel lead down to 42-33 heading into halftime.

Guidry paced the Bears’ scoring attack with 17 points, four rebounds and two blocks, while Ceasar added 15 points and nine rebounds.

With Monday’s victory, Mount Carmel will face the winner of No. 4 Destrehan-No. 13 Covington game.

If Destrehan wins, the Cubs would be set for a rematch against the same team they defeated in the championship of last season’s Class 5A playoffs.

“I think they are a very skilled and talented team, but so are we,” Franckiewicz said. “I don’t know who’s going to win that one, but I can tell you that we’re ready.”