Rarely have the names Line Mountain Eagles and Philadlephia Athletics been used in the same sentence, but this year, the comparison is close.

In 1914, the Athletics were on top of baseball's American League. Just a year later, Philadelphia was a basement dweller with a worst-ever drop of 56 games from the previous season's record.

Line Mountain isn't in the basement of the Tri-Valley league this year, but the Eagles are on the steps.

After a 22-0 regular season last year, the Eagles have been hit with the downturn that every small school faces at some point and are one loss away from not qualifying for the playoffs at all, which is a shame because the Eagles helter-skelter style of play has been fun to watch.

Which makes what Lourdes, in albeit a different situation than a public school, is trying to do this year all the more impressive.

Lourdes wants "one for the thumb" in consecutive District 4 titles. The last two years, it was Line Mountain that tried to challenge the Red Raiders.

This year, it's a cast of St. John Neumann's Meghan Trenholm, Benton's Justine Seely, Sayre's Mollie Robinson and Northeast Bradford's Angelia Laudermilch that will try to take on the Red Raiders.

What has made the Raiders the constant threat is head coach Mike Klembara, who coincidentally is nearing 600 career victories. He currently has 592 with five games left in the regular season. Those games, however, happen to be against Minersville, Schuylkill Haven, Tri-Valley, Williams Valley and Shamokin.

The Red Raiders lost to both Minersville and Tri-Valley the first time through the Schuylkill League schedule, which means Klembara and the Raiders will need to most likely win two games in the state playoffs if Klembara doesn't want to wait until next season for the milestone. The only problem with that is the last Class A team to go at least two game deep into the state

playoffs from around here is - Line Mountain.

Have to get to the line to make 'em

It turns out, free throws are not free. Admission to the foul line is usually a bruise, or at least it should be, but for my taste not every team is earning their trips.

There seems to be a lack of aggressiveness on the whole as teams are willing to run, but all too quickly pull the ball out to the perimeter to chuck a 3-pointer. While the 3-point shot has its place, there is something to be said for teams inducing contact, racking up fouls on the other team and getting to the line.

What players do once they get there is the same old story. Only two players with 50 or more attempts are shooting better than .600 percent. They are Mount Carmel's Christina Perles (79-102, .775) and Southern Columbia's Kayla Lavella (45-59, .763).

Conference clash

It's no coincidence that Perles and Lavella are the area's top two scorers, nor that their teams are in the thick of a tight Heartland Conference Division II race and they'll play next Saturday at Southern.

Also in the mix is an up-and-coming Montoursville team that has lost to Mount Carmel, but beat Southern Columbia. With the innaugural Heartland championship on the horizon, as far as we still know, a division title actually means something.

Leading scorers

Lavella, who needs 73 points to crack 1,000 for her career, and Perles are atop the charts at 17.8 and 17.0 points per game, respectively.

The remainder of the top 10 are: Lourdes' Rachel Schultz, 15.4; Mount Carmel's Ali Varano, 14.7; Line Mountain's Sarah Lahr, 11.5; Lourdes' Sarah Getchey (who leads the area with 37 3-pointers), 11.1; Southern Columbia's Mallory Tomaschik, 10.4; Lourdes' Nikki Komara, 10.2; Shamokin's Kelsey Yacko, 9.1; Shamokin's Olivia Bonshock, 8.9.