Mount Carmel is used to running the Catholic League.
Against newcomer John Curtis, however, the task got much more daunting.
Mt. Carmel extended its District 9-5A winning streak to 17 consecutive regular-season games with a 45-32 victory over Curtis at home on Monday night.
The Cubs (20-6, 3-0) took advantage of timely perimeter shooting and dominant rebounding to remain unbeaten in district play, and did so in what Mt. Carmel coach Jamie Thomatis described as a playoff atmosphere.
“It’s a good thing,” Thomatis said of having Curtis in the Catholic League. “5A is such a competitive classification. Chapelle and Dominican have pushed us, too, but a team with that much athleticism and ball pressure, it’s a great tuneup. I look forward to playing them again in February as a great tuneup heading into the playoffs.”
“The whole season, we’ve been saying ‘If they throw the first punch, we throw the next one,’ ” said Megan Donaldson, who led Mt. Carmel with 12 points. “We came together well as a team, made those shots, made those passes. Ellie (Holzman) got those blocks, and we got hyped and we came out with the ‘W.’ ”
All of Donaldson’s points came via 3-pointers, which proved to be the catalyst for the Cubs.
After the first quarter ended in a 7-all tie, Mt. Carmel opened the second on an 11-2 run, capped by Donaldson’s 3-pointer to push the Cubs ahead by at much as nine in the first half.
Curtis sophomore Dynah Jones scored three consecutive points to close out the half and cut Mt. Carmel’s halftime lead to four.
That close game persisted into the second half, as back-to-back 3-pointers from Chrislyn Boyd off the bench brought the Patriots (14-11, 1-1) to as close as three in the third quarter.
However, Donaldson responded with a 3 of her own, which swung momentum back into the home team’s favor.
Donaldson’s basket from downtown set Mt. Carmel on a 12-0 run into the fourth quarter. In the run, Paige Franckiewicz drained consecutive 3s to extend the Cubs’ lead to as much as 18 at the 6:01 mark.
The sharp shooting all but iced the victory for Mt. Carmel, which maintained its unblemished record in league play.
“We’ve been missing that lately with their shooting,” Thomatis said. “We’ve been getting up a lot of shots lately. They’re great shooters, so eventually shooters come out of slumps. Our offense relies heavily on hitting those outside shots.”
Donaldson was helped by her surrounding cast, including Kristen Nuss, who finished with nine points and six steals; Franckiewicz, who had nine points (three 3s); and Holzman, who scored four points and corralled 10 rebounds.
Curtis was led by Jones, who finished with 12 points and five rebounds. Abryhia Irons and Boyd chipped in six points.
That wasn’t enough to keep pace with the Cubs on this night, Curtis coach Barbara Farris said.
“They hit shots. That’s all it takes,” she said. “When you’ve got shooters, they hit shots.”
They’re a good team, so you can’t turn it over. You need to take advantage of any offensive possession and get the best shot off, and we need to hit some. They’re a good team that works well together to move the ball and understands their roles. They’re specific to their tendencies and what they do well, and they don’t stray from the path.”