Mt. Carmel junior Ali Engelhardt, who had 35 points and 13 rebounds, shoots over Poway’s Brooke Hulett (left) during a rare win for the Sundevils on the Titans’ court.
POWAY Playing basketball in a rival’s gym is rarely a fun experience.
Ali Engelhardt, a junior forward on the Mt. Carmel High girls basketball team, felt that way.
“I hate that meeting room,” she said, pointing to the little room off to the side of the Poway gym where visiting teams gather.
After two losses at Poway, Engelhardt finally walked out of that little room with a good feeling.
Led by her 35 points and 13 rebounds, the No. 10-ranked Sundevils struggled with their shooting but managed to claim a 58-39 victory over the Titans on Friday night.
The win kept Mt. Carmel (18-6, 5-1) one game behind Torrey Pines in the Palomar League heading into Tuesday’s showdown in the Falcons’ gym.
“Last time we were shellshocked against Torrey,” Engelhardt said. “It was a reality check for us because we found out we have to work for wins.
“That’s why winning here is so big. You want momentum going to Torrey and now we can’t get big heads because we finally won at Poway.”
Engelhardt has good reason to savor the victory at Poway a bit longer than most other wins.
“They outscored us like 18-1 in the fourth quarter my freshman year and we lost a close game by three last year,” she recalled. “At halftime I said we have to want this more than them.”
Despite starting the game with a 9-0 lead, the Sundevils led just 26-25 before outscoring the Titans (14-9, 2-4) by a 14-3 margin in the third quarter and 18-11 in the final quarter.
Engelhardt hit nine of 10 free throws down the stretch.
Casey McWilliam added 13 points and seven rebounds for the Sundevils, who shot just 13 of 41 (32 percent).
“Winning on the road in the Palomar League is awesome,” Sundevils coach Tim Jollett said. “You feel like you have the upper hand when you can do that.”
Even in a house of horrors for the Sundevils — like Poway.