By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
MOUNT CARMEL —
Isabella Stellar came away with a loose ball and dished to Ali Varano for a layup early in the second quarter.
Although it was only one play out of 32 minutes of action, the steal and transition bucket was indicative of the way Mount Carmel played in win over Lewisburg on Saturday.
The first meeting of the HAC-II contenders since a stirring district quarterfinal last season quickly turned in a runaway victory for the Red Tornadoes, 64-51, as the Red Tornadoes’ post players took over the game and wreaked havoc on the defensive end.
Mount Carmel coach Lisa Varano praised the play of her team in defeating Lewisburg (3-2, 1-1) by double-digits.
“(It was) a nice team effort,” Varano said.
Daily Item Preseason Player of the Year Christina Perles played a game worthy of the accolade, pacing the Red Tornadoes with 26 points as a force inside that was virtually unstoppable.
The tenacious Perles was nearly a lock to score with the ball in her hands, using her pivot foot to scoop the ball in for quick layups. Perles helped the Red Tornadoes erase an early 7-3 deficit, scoring five straight points to pull ahead.
A Maria Kelleher free throw for the Green Dragons tied the game at eight, but the Red Tornadoes answered with 10 consecutive points to end the quarter for a lead they would not relinquish.
The Red Tornadoes (3-1, 2-0) continued their momentum in the second quarter, scoring the first six points. After a free throw from Lewisburg’s Emily Conrad, Kelleher tried to bring her team back with help of a four-point play. She was fouled on a 3-pointer from the top and drained the free throw.
The Red Tornadoes did not budge, maintaining a steady lead and pulling into halftime with a 39-19 lead.
Sitting for a few minutes did nothing to stop the Red Tornadoes’ momentum as the physicality returned in waves. Perles continually heaved the ball at the rim with the Green Dragons’ defense converging on her to draw fouls.
On the other end, the Red Tornadoes made passing the ball difficult for Lewisburg, pressing before half-court and stepping in front of passing lanes.
Varano said the pressure on defense, led by Ali Varano, allowed the Red Tornadoes to work the ball inside to Perles easier.
“The biggest thing we have to figure out is how not to turn the ball over,” Lewisburg head coach Phil Stamm said.
Perles and Varano took over the game late in the third quarter, combining to score seven of the final nine points for the Red Tornadoes.
The Green Dragons made a run late in the game as reserves came in for both sides, but were unable to get closer than 13 points.