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  • January 11, 2024
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34 years! That’s how long girl’s basketball has been played at Mount Carmel Area High School. – ONE! – That’s how many District Championship banners hang in the gymnasium. That honor goes to the 1985 Lady Tornado basketball team coached by Deb Greco (Perles). Although long overdue, the Ed Romance Lower Anthracite Chapter today recognizes the wonderful achievement of the “Girls of 85.”

Entering the 84-85 season, girls basketball had been on the rise, having played in the District IV Championship game in 82 and 83 and finishing 3rd in 1984. The 85 team was led by Pennsylvania’s all-time leading scorer Maria Fantanarosa, but was different in that the team now had an 11 member bench and had 6 quality players who provided outstanding depth. Fantanarosa now had 500 assist point guard, Margot Guinan, and 4-year starter Lisa Balitchick – the do-everything 3-guard to help her out. Add Lori Adamcik and Lil Cole as tough, inside players, and you had a recipe for success. Of course, no team is complete without the bench and with Cheryl Darrup, Kim Little, Shannon Guinan, Melissa White, and Mary and Peggy Scicchitano, MCA had the players to finally get over the frustration that was District IV Play-offs.

The Lady Tornadoes would post a fine 17-10 record that season, even though they lost 5 games by 5 points or less. In addition, they would face adversity in the middle of the season as Fantanarosa went down with an injury, but managed to go 2-2 in games without her with Cheryl Darrup putting in 20 vs Pottsville and Lisa Balitchick leading the way in a win over Shamokin. The girls played their best when they had to, winning 6 consecutive games, including the championship game, and extending it to 7 with MCA’s first-ever victory in a PIAA play-off game win over Reading Holy Name. The District Championship game was a slugfest with MCA coming out with a 71-70 win over Middleburg. The girls opening game may have been the most satisfying – a 57-40 win over old nemesis Loyalsock – a team that knocked the Tornadoes out of District play the previous 2 years.

Of course, no talk of this team can be complete without some mention of Fantanarosa. During her career at MCA, she shattered the state scoring mark with a total of 3,823 points. The most amazing numbers are her averaging of 31.3 points per game in 122 games and only one of them in single digits. But it is that championship, that ONE championship, that brings these girls together today as a TEAM. That wonderful team that has set standards for all future girls basketball players at Mount Carmel Area.

Categories: 2007 Hall of Fame