MCA withstands Benton
MOUNT CARMEL - Mount Carmel coach Lisa Varano is starting to see signs of the Red Tornadoes coming together almost as nicely as last year's 27-1 team. That's not good news for the rest of the Pennsylvania Heartland Athletic Conference.
The Tornadoes got solid contributions throughout the lineup, forced Benton into 38 turnovers and overcame a monstrous game by the Tigers' Justine Seely for a 65-50 win in a non-division game Monday.
Mount Carmel improved to 6-1 overall, and Benton dropped to 6-3.
Ali Varano led the way with 20 points, 10 rebounds and six steals, Christina Perles added 21 points and the rest of the team did lots of what coaches call "the little things."
"They're starting to learn how each other play," Lisa Varano said. "That's good because we're going to need that. We have some tough tests coming up."
The Red Tornadoes needed to play well. Seely, Benton's 6-foot center, was overpowering, with 26 points and 27 rebounds. Those numbers would have been better if she had shot fouls better (8 of 18). Seely had seven points and an amazing 11 rebounds in the first quarter alone as Benton took a 13-10 lead.
"We knew she was a scorer, and the girls needed to help out with her as much as they could," Varano said. "I thought Elise Nestico did a pretty good job but then she got in foul trouble."
Nestico, Mount Carmel's center, only scored two points but had some big rebounds and a blocked shot, and she, Anna Raybuck and Perles made Seely work hard underneath.
Ali Varano kept Mount Carmel in the early running. She hit her first four shots from the floor on the way to a 9-for-15 night, then picked up all of her steals in the second half.
Perles took up the offensive slack in the second half, while Paige Hornung controlled the flow of the game and Isabella Stellar had a solid game off the bench. Hornung committed just one turnover, handed out three assists and had five steals, and Stellar scored eight points and had four steals. Raybuck also had 10 rebounds.
"Paige is doing a better job of taking care of the ball," Varano said. "She's been working really hard at practice. And Stellar is really starting to get comfortable. She's improving more and more every day."
Mount Carmel took control in the third quarter by outscoring Benton 22-14 to take a 50-39 lead, and Benton never dropped the lead back to single digits.
Guards Casey Galvin and Mackenzie Yurko gave Seely some offensive support with nine and eight points, respectively, but the Tigers had trouble bringing the ball upcourt against Mount Carmel's pressure despite trying several options.
Mount Carmel hosts once-beaten Southern Columbia on Wednesday before getting into the meat of its Heartland Division II schedule.
BENTON (50) - Gavin 4 0-2 9, Stevins 1 0-0 2, Miller 1 0-0 2, Yurko 3 1-4 8, Seely 9 8-18 26, Derrick 0 0-0 0, Cross 1 1-2 3. Totals 19 10-26 50.
MOUNT CARMEL (65) - Hornung 1 2-2 5, Varano 9 2-6 20, Perles 9 2-2 21, Nestico 1 0-0 2, Raybuck 2 2-2 6, Bolick 0 0-0 0, Winhofer 0 0-0 0, Montgomery 1 0-0 3, Stellar 2 4-6 8. Totals 25 12-18 65.
3-point FGs: Benton (2) - Gavin, Yurko; Mount Carmel (3) - Hornung, Perles, Montgomery
JV: Mount Carmel 40, Benton 19