Bolingbrook has size, speed and scoring weapons throughout its lineup.
When Mount Carmel got its defense going in crunch time Monday, though, none of that mattered.
The Caravan shut the Raiders down in the fourth quarter, outscoring them 13-2 over the first 6:30 minutes of the period to take control for a 62-57 win in the MLK Day of Hoops at Joliet Central.
“We’re long enough and quick enough that we can guard a lot of guys,” Mount Carmel’s Gabe Grant said. “We rely on our defense and know we can count on it when we need it.”
Down 44-39 after three, the Caravan (14-6) scored the first seven points of the fourth, four on drives from David Nichols, to take the lead for good.
By the time the clock showed 1:18, and Grant hit his third shot of the quarter, Mount Carmel was up 52-46 with Bolingbrook (11-3) managing just two points on free throws.
“We struggle on offense at times,” Nichols said. “Our defense is our one constant.”
Grant, who finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds, went 6-of-8 from the line over the final 50 seconds to seal the win.
Nichols led the Caravan with 22 points and Christian Searles had 10.
Prentiss Nixon paced Bolingbrook with 21 points and six rebounds while Gage Davis scored 14 points and Kenny Williams 10.
Davis heated up for seven third-quarter points as the Raiders turned a 32-31 halftime deficit into a 42-32 lead, shutting out Mount Carmel for the first five minutes of the quarter.
The Caravan, though, closed the third on a 7-2 run then put their own defensive clamps on in the fourth.
“We got stagnant on offense in the fourth and made some bad decisions,” Bolingbrook coach Rob Brost said. “We got a bit complacent with the 10-point lead and a good team like Mount Carmel will make you pay for that. There’s no excuse. When you have a 10-point lead in the third quarter, you should win.”
Nichols and Nixon waged an impressive backcourt battle in the first half, Nichols scoring 12 points – including 10 in the first five minutes of the second quarter – and Nixon 11 before the break as Mount Carmel took a 32-31 lead to the locker room.
It was the fourth win in a row for Mount Carmel.
“Getting (Searles) back handing the ball solidified our lineup,” Mount Carmel coach Mike Flaherty said. “Beating St. Ignatius (Friday) and Bolingbrook in the same weekend is big for us.”