Mount Carmel was in the zone, and that was enough to shake up Chapelle.

Using a stingy defense and a perplexing zone attack, Mount Carmel slowed down Chapelle for a 33-22 victory in the teams’ District 9-5A opener Monday night.

Coming off their first AllState Sugar Bowl Prep Classic tournament championship, the Cubs (17-5) carried that momentum into league play, particularly on defense.

“We focused on defense a bit,” first-year Mount Carmel coach Jamie Thomatis said. “We did a decent job over those three days and wanted to use it coming into here because Chapelle is a disciplined team, they run sets, find open people and play team offense, and that forces us to play team defense.”

“Our goal is go undefeated in district, so the first game we had to come out strong and set the stage,” said senior point guard Kristen Nuss, who led Mount Carmel with 13 points, five rebounds and five steals.

“We just tried to play scrappy so we can get in their face, and that seemed to effect them a bit.”

And it did.

The Chipmunks (13-12) shot 18 percent in the first half and were held to 0-for-8 from the field in the second quarter.

Mount Carmel outscored Chapelle 11-2 in that quarter. Mount Carmel coach Mike Krajcer Jr. pinpointed his team’s defense as the difference in the final score.

“The second quarter we didn’t play defense at all,” said Krajcer. “We’re a streaky shooting team, and we were mad about missing shots (in the quarter) and that was a game changer. We were down 13 and so worried about offense that we stopped playing defense.”

Chapelle found its offense in the second half, thanks in part to the emergence of Indya Tutt.

The point guard made 3-of-4 free throws, and Kayla Small connected on Chapelle’s lone 3-pointer before Kyla Duncan’s basket helped the Chipmunks cut their deficit to seven with 1:49 remaining in the third quarter.

However, Mount Carmel regained its composure, responding with a 16-4 run to close the game.

“We just needed to settle down,” Nuss said. “They got their fans in there a bit and put in some shots. We settled down the crowd a bit and got the momentum back.”

For Mount Carmel, Ellie Holzman had six points and five rebounds, and Lauren Bodino finished with five points and five rebounds.

Tutt led Chapelle with nine points, five rebounds and two assists. Duncan had four points and five rebounds.

Despite the second-half charge, Krajcer was pleased as the Cubs beat Chapelle for the 10th consecutive time.

“I can’t ask for anything else,” he said. “We held that team to 33 points, and it should have been closer. We’re getting there.”