By Scott Dudinskie
The Daily Item
There's a stark difference between this season's Mount Carmel girls basketball team and the similarly successful ones of recent years, besides the changing faces.
Things haven't come as easily to these Red Tornadoes.
Not the Heartland Athletic Conference-Division II championship, which they'd won with one division loss (or none) each of the previous three years.
Not the District 4 Class AA championship, which they rolled to by an average of 20 points in the prior three title games.
And not a win in their state playoff opener, which for a long time Friday looked as though it wouldn't be a win at all.
Mount Carmel shrugged off a four-point deficit after three quarters and floored Montrose with a 13-2 fourth-quarter run. The Tornadoes held the District 2 third-place team to just three points in the last period of a 43-33 win.
Their third second-round state game in as many years is against District 11 runner-up Salisbury Township at 7:30 tonight at Hamburg H.S. The Falcons (18-8) are led by 6-foot-3 junior center Meagan Eripret, who averages 22.5 points and 13 rebounds per game.
Mount Carmel is 24-4, and for a program that graduated three 1,000-point scorers the last two years -- and also had a three-year starter leave at the beginning of this one -- reaching the heights of previous teams is quite a feat.
"It doesn't surprise me because we work so, so hard, and I believe we can accomplish a lot," junior guard Jen Bolick said Friday. "We accomplished more than anyone expected us to, and it's just an amazing feeling."
The Tornadoes have had no choice but to work hard.
They're not a particularly strong shooting team, although their percentage is usually offset by the sheer volume of their shots. They aren't blessed with size, so it's a often a chore to stay competitive on the boards and not allow rebounding to be their downfall.