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  • January 12, 2024
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Heading into the 1990-91 basketball season, Mount Carmel Area High School had gone through over 1500 games and 76 years without ever having won a District Championship. The Tornadoes had played in 3 District playoff games, only to come up short for the gold. As the new season approached, MCA had lost 6 of their top 8 players from back to back 18 win teams, so breaking that streak was not on anyone’s mind. At least not until the Tornadoes opened the season with a thrilling 64-55 victory over the defending PIAA State Champion Lourdes Red Raiders. Big Red sealed the win with 6’10” Chris McCarthy’s 14 of 14 performance from the line. The Tornadoes would then come back to earth going 6-4 in a tough exhibition schedule, designed by Coach John McKay to better prepare the team for post season play. One of the early wins included a 68-65 win over rival Shamokin Area in the K of C Tournament. The Indians would go 22-1 in the regular season and would eventually win the District IV title going 26-3. The Tornadoes would also register MCA’s 700th basketball win with a 56-52 win over the Spartans of North Schuylkill.

McKay would use a rotation including McCarthy, Mark Vottero, John Christian, Jerry Delaney, Aaron Jayman, Mike Kaleta, Rocco Scicchitano, Shawn Zarkoski, Steve Katch, and Bob Veach. Each was asked to step up based on the game and situation – and they did. The Tornadoes, playing in the always tough Division I of the Schuylkill League, posted double wins over Pottsville, North Schuylkill, Tamaqua and Pine Grove, but would lose to West Hazleton, Blue Mountain, and Shamokin to finish 8-6 in the League.

That tough exhibition and league schedule were about to play off as the Tornadoes headed into District XI play for the third consecutive year. They opened with a convincing 61-50 win over Wilson and followed that with an offensive explosion (shooting 71% from the field) in an 88-72 win over Salisbury. The Tornadoes were paced in that game by McCarthy’s 35 points and 19 defensive rebounds, as well as, Vottero’s 13 assists. They would finally get over that District hurdle by defeating Northwest Lehigh 41-36 in a defensive struggle with their lowest scoring game of the season. They would go on in state play to defeat Columbia 53-52, before being eliminated by Archbishop Kennedy by a 62-61 score.

McCarthy would establish a new season record for scoring with 597 points, as well as, a new season record 520 rebounds. Vottero would register 406 points and 129 assists, while Christian lead the team with 30 3’s. This team certainly goes down in history as the first ever to win a title, but also provided future Tornado teams with a formula to do it.

Categories: 2011 Hall of Fame