Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ--Mount Carmel's Lauren Bodino gets past Mandeville's Sarah Jane Ladut in a December game at Mount Carmel.

Mount Carmel’s girls basketball team usually overpowers the opposition with their potent scoring duo of Taylor Berry and Paige Frankiewicz.

But, despite a poor shooting night from their veteran guards, Mount Carmel (5-1) still run away from Mandeville (0-1) with a strong second half to take a 62-51 victory on Tuesday night.

Berry and Frankiewicz went a combined 10-of-31 from the field and each scored 13 apiece, but strong defense and a balanced offense gave the defending Class 5A state champions the edge against Mandeville in the Skippers’ first game of the season.

“We’ve been really focused on making sure our ball movement is good,” said Mount Carmel coach Kevin McGlathery. “We’re trying to get two assists on every basket we score. That means on any given night, anybody can be the person that goes off for us.”

The two players that played a major part in picking up the slack of Berry and Frankiewicz were guard Megan Donaldson and center Lauren Bodino. Bodino dominated around the basket, scoring 11 points to go with 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Donaldson added 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the field.

“She creates space in the paint,” McGlathery said. I think we need to do a better job keeping her involved offensively so she can maintain her intensity on the boards.”

After back-to-back baskets by Mandeville’s Shantel Short cut the Mount Carmel lead down to 37-32, the Cubs starting forcing turnovers and went on an 11-0 run to end the third quarter to extend their lead to 48-32. MCA’s lead ballooned to 60-38 at one point in the fourth quarter before the Cubs started pulling some of its starters.

Berry and Frankiewicz combined for 15 of the Cubs’ 33 first-half points, but only did it on 6-of-18 shooting from the field. Mount Carmel got a scoring boost from Donaldson as she hit her first three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points in the first half.

“She is a very valuable part of our team,” McGlathery said of Donaldson. “She keeps our pace where we want it. When we get scoring from her, it makes us very hard to guard. They had their focus on Paige and Taylor, so we needed everybody tonight.”

Mount Carmel’s zone kept the Skippers away from the basket for the majority of the first half and forced them into mostly perimeter jumpers, which resulted in a 10-for-28 shooting performance in the first half. Mount Carmel led 33-24 at halftime.

“That’s really what we want to do,” McGlathery said. “Our pace is very frantic, so if we can force teams into jump shots, that allows us to get into the fast break.”

Elise Reilly led the Skippers with 18 points and five rebounds on 7-of-18 shooting from the field.

Mandeville guard Maddie Foreman went down with what appeared to be a knee injury in the second quarter and was carried off the court. She missed her only shot of before exiting the contest and never returning.