MOUNT CARMEL - It wasn't pretty, but it was effective.

Mount Carmel, needing every win it can get for its district playoff hopes, played tough defense and overcame a slow start to beat Mifflinburg, 50-40, Monday, putting the Red Tornadoes a game over .500 at 9-8.

Nobody scored in double figures for either team, but all nine players who played for the Red Tornadoes scored, and Mount Carmel held the Wildcats to single figures in each of the first three quarters before they pushed the tempo up a notch in an attempt to catch up in the fourth.

"Defense was where it's at tonight," said Mount Carmel coach John Lazicki. "That was probably the best help defense we've played all season. They're starting to understand how to play it better."

For the third game in a row, the Red Tornadoes came out slowly. In their past three games, they've scored three, eight and three points in the first quarter. But they've won two of those three games, so they're doing some things right.

"We have nine guys that play regularly and they are all giving us good minutes," Lazicki said. "It's no surprise we don't have people in double figures. That's us."

Tyler Kwiatkowski paced Mount Carmel with nine points. Rob Varano and Ben Scicchitano each had eight, and Varano, in particular, had a strong all-around game, with four rebounds, all in the first half, and three assists. He was 4-for-5 from the floor. Christian Kelley came off the bench to score seven points with seven rebounds.

"Robbie did a lot of little things, especially

in the first half," Lazicki said. " And Christian and Zach (Wasilewski) coming off the bench probably get as much time as the starters."

After their cold start, the Red Tornadoes outscored Mifflinburg (7-11) 15-5 in the second quarter to take a four-point halftime lead, which they increased to 31-20 after three quarters.

Jordan Wagner and Jeremy Uskowskas each scored nine points to lead Mifflinburg.

Mount Carmel hosts Hughesville in a Heartland Conference Division II game Wednesday.

Game Summary

MIFFLINBURG (40) - Zack 0 5-6 5, Failor 0 0-0 0, Derk 2 0-0 6, Lee 3 0-0 8, Wagner 4 0-0 9, Wiand 1 1-1 3, Uskowskas 4 1-4 9. Totals 14 7-11 40.

MOUNT CARMEL (50) - Tocyloski 1 0-0 3, Varano 4 0-0 8, Duran 2 1-1 5, Heromin 0 2-4 2, Scicchitano 4 0-0 8, Wasilewski 2 1-2 5, Kwiatkowski 3 2-4 9, Beierschmitt 0 3-4 3, Kelley 2 3-7 7. Totals 18 12-22 50.

3-point FGs: Mifflinburg (5) - Derk 2, Lee 2, Wagner; Mount Carmel (2) - Tocyloski, Kwiatkowski

JV: Mount Carmel 39, Mifflinburg 32.