By Scott Dudinskie
The Daily Item
From the first game to the last, Christina Perles made her only season at Mount Carmel one to remember.
The senior forward, who played her previous high school seasons at Lourdes Regional, meshed perfectly on a team coming off the most successful season in program history.
With her strong-yet-unselfish play, the Red Tornadoes three-peated as league and district champions.
Perles was the Valley's top scorer at 17.4 points per game, but she scored within the flow of an offense that also saw juniors Ali Varano and Ana Raybuck average 14.9 and 9.2 points, respectively.
When the stakes were highest, though, she could carry Mount Carmel if need be.
Perles scored 26 points in a pair of early season showdowns with Heartland Athletic Conference-Division II contenders Lewisburg and Loyalsock. She dropped 27 in a nonleague win over Nativity BVM, and poured in 25 in a marquee game win over Minersville; she also pulled 10 rebounds against both Schuylkill League opponents.
In the Red Tornadoes' state playoff opener against Wilkes-Barre GAR, Perles scored a season-high 30 points on 12-of-18 shooting in just three quarters of play. It was a brilliant performance in a remarkable season.
"I'm the only senior out of our starters," she said, "and I just really didn't want it to be my last game."
Perles, the daughter of Rick and Deb Perles of Kulpmont, became a starter midway through her freshman year and totaled 979 points while helping Lourdes to three consecutive District 4-A titles. The 979 points rank 12th on Lourdes all-time list. She became the 10th Mount Carmel girl to surpass 1,000 points in the season opener, and finished her career with 1,465 points.
In addition to her team-high scoring average, Perles averaged 7.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.7 steals. She also converted 77 percent of her free throws, sinking 169 of 221 attempts.
She scored 20 or more points 10 times, and pulled 10 or more rebounds in four games. She made 43 percent of her field goals and 38 percent of her 3-point attempts
Following the season, Perles was awarded a place on The 2012-13 Pennsylvania Sports Writers All-State Girls Basketball team. Perles was voted to the Class AA third team, a year after Kim Andruscavage earned the same honor for Mount Carmel. Perles was also a HAC-II all-star selection.
Perles helped the Red Tornadoes surpass the 20-win plateau for a third consecutive season, and win a state playoff game for the second straight year.
n Coach of the Year
If you only looked at his team's success, you might not believe the adversity Mike Klembara had to overcome with his Lourdes Regional girls this season.
The Red Raiders veteran coach lost his top scorer and rebounder in Perles, who transferred, while dealing with two Schuylkill League Division II opponents in Tri-Valley and Minersville that were state championship hopefuls with three all-state players between them.
Klembara and Lourdes did just fine, thank you, winning 22 games -- including their fifth consecutive District 4 Class A championship -- and playing their way into the second round of the state tournament as the last Valley team standing.
Lourdes had an eight-game midseason win streak, and a six-win run that ended in states.
Klembara won 20 or more games for the 14th time, and claimed his 11th district title. The district championship win over Sayre marked his 600th career win.
Klembara's career record stands at 602-270 in 34 seasons.