CATAWISSA RR - Southern Columbia finished the first half of Joe Britto's first season as head coach with a 51-44 Heartland Conference victory over Montoursville Tuesday night.

With a stretch run toward a potential District 4 playoff berth on the horizon, the victory, their third in the last four games, was important in that it lifts the Tigers (6-5) over the .500 mark.

It was important on another level as well, with the Tigers playing hard, the length of the court and for all 32 minutes in the style Britto stresses.

Early on, they didn't shoot very well and throughout the game, the Warriors controlled the boards to the tune of a 37-23 advantage.

"Two things we stress are that we run the floor and we really get after them on defense," Britto said. "We have a bunch of athletic kids and they go hard and play defense over the whole court. When we do that, we're successful."

And as for that berth in the postseason?

"The playoffs are a goal," Britto said. "And we know that's kind of creeping up now.

"But we want to keep doing what we have to do, keep getting better, win games and that will take care of itself."

The get-after-it defense paid dividends, particulary in the first half when points were difficult to come by for both teams. The Tigers forced 15 first-half Montoursville turnovers - 21 for the game - limiting Warriors' scoring opportunities. They only turned the ball over 13 times.

And while guard Mike Klebon was the game's leading scorer with 18 points, including three consecutive 3-pointers at one point in the third quarter, the Tigers also got solid production from a bench that outscored Montoursville's bench 16-5.

Both Doug Michaels and Ken Fegley, who nailed two 3-pointers, contributed six points in reserve rolls. As a team, Southern finished with seven 3-pointers.

"We tell them to keep shooting," Britto said. "Shots don't fall sometimes, that happens.

"But we want our shooters to keep shooting."

Down nine after three quarters, Montoursville kept it close with a 19-point fourth-quarter output fueled by 11 from from 6-foot-4 inside player Connor Moran. Moran and Quenten Persun led Montoursville with 11 each. James McMahon added 10.

Game Summary

MONTOURSVILLE (44) - Miller 3 1-3 7, Bair 1 0-0 2, Persun 4 2-2 11, Entz 0 0-0 0, Mussina 1 0-0 3, Ripley 0 0-0 0, Moran 5 1-2 11, McMahon 4 0-0 10, Christ 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 4-7 44.

SOUTHERN COLUMBIA (51) - Olson 2 2-4 7, Do. Michaels 3 0-0 6, Klebon 5 4-4 18, Palacz 1 2-2 4, Rarig 1 0-0 2, Mostik 2 0-3 4, Fegley 2 0-0 6, Ciocco 0 0-0 0, Keiser 1 0-0 2, Dr. Michaels 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 8-13 51.

3-point FGs: Person, Mussina, McMahon 2, Olson, Klebon 4, Fegley 2.

JV score: Southern Columbia 68-65 (3 OT)