H.S. GIRLS BASKETBALL: Varano scores 1,000th, but Mount Carmel suffers rare defeat
MOUNT CARMEL - Ali Varano has terrorized teams the last four seasons.
She's been a one-girl wrecking crew on defense and that carefully constructed chaos has turned into instant offense for Varano and the Red Tornadoes.
Varano has taken the ball and sprinted down the court for a layup so often in her career the Mount Carmel senior reached the 1,000-point mark for her career Wednesday.
She's the 11th Red Tornadoes girls basketball player to score at least 1,000 points.
Unfortunately, the Red Tornadoes' game with Montoursville might stick with Varano and her teammates for an altogether different reason - it's Mount Carmel's first Heartland Conference Division II loss in more than a year.
The Warriors beat the Red Tornadoes, 52-48, thanks to a defensive strategy that stuck Montoursville's freshman guard Lexi Marchioni on Varano like glue and size down low that the Red Tornadoes couldn't match.
"I'm sure it's more bitter," Mount Carmel head coach Lisa Varano said when asked if the milestone was bitter sweet for Ali. "She wants to win more than she wants anything. She's not too happy right now.
"They changed up their defense often and we had trouble adjusting to that. We knew they were going to do that, we just had some trouble adjusting."
Varano hit the milestone basket with 3:19 left in the first quarter but she was held to four points in the first half.
Her teammates bailed her out though and the Red Tornadoes had a 14-10 lead after the first quarter, and led by two at halftime.
Paige Hornung scored six in the half and Maura Fiamoncini scored five off the bench.
But most of the Tornadoes' points came outside the paint because the inside was dominated by Montoursville's Kelsey Stine, who scored 20 points and had 13 rebounds.
Kirsten O'Malley, a 6-foot, 1-inch guard, had 12 points and four rebounds.
"Their size bothered us," Varano said. "We got hammered in rebounding and that was tough. They got a lot of their points in the paint and they were very disciplined. They deserved the win."
Mount Carmel tried to pull away in the second quarter when the Red Tornadoes had a 22-16 lead, but every time the Red Tornadoes tried to build a bigger lead Stine was there to keep Montoursville right in it.
And then Stine put the Warriors on top with six straight points in the middle of the fourth quarter.
Still, Mount Carmel was within three points on its last possession despite shooting just 7-for-23 from the floor in the second half.
Varano did lead the Tornadoes with 12 points and had 10 rebounds to go with three steals.
But instead of a win to go along with celebratory balloons, the Red Tornadoes will file this game aways and wait for the second run through the Heartland schedule and another game with Montoursville.
"We get to see them again and we know what we need to do and work on that," Lisa Varano said. "You can learn a lot from a loss and hopefully we learned."
MONTOURSVILLE (52) - O'Malley 5 2-2 12, Hall 4 0-1 8, Ruffing 1 0-1 2, Marchioni 4 1-1 9, Stine 6 8-14 20, Weisser 0 0-0 0, Mitchell 0 1-2 1, Folk 0 0-0 0. Totals 20 12-21 52.
MOUNT CARMEL (48) - Bolick 3 0-1 6, Lutz 2 0-0 4, Hornung 3 0-0 9, Varano 6 0-1 12, Fiamoncini 2 0-0 5, Stellar 2 3-4 7, Parker 2 1-2 5. Totals 20 4-8 48.
3-point FGs: Hornung 3, Fiamoncini