CATAWISSA R.R. - Northwest Area shot almost 70 percent in the first half Friday - and trailed Southern Columbia by 11 points.

That's because the scrappy Tigers (2-2) forced the Rangers (1-5) into 16 turnovers in the half, and 27 for the game, to earn a 54-45 win in the Southern Columbia Holiday Tournament. Southern will play North Schuylkill, a 50-46 winner over Milton in the other semifinal game, tonight for the championship.

"We're the kind of team we thought we'd be," said Southern coach Dave Yost. "We lack size and we have to be scrappy to be able to compete and stay in games. But we do have some athleticism that we can depend on."

Point guard Mike Klebon and Bryce Parry led the ball-hawking

on defense for the Tigers, and not coincidentally, also paced the offense. Klebon had seven steals and Parry five as Southern repeatedly trapped the Rangers into mistakes. Parry also scored 15 points and had six rebounds, and Klebon added 14 points and three assists. Kyle Mostik contributed 13 points.

"Mike is a sophomore on paper but we almost expect him to play like a senior," Yost said. "He probably has the highest basketball IQ of anyone on the team, but we have to remember sometimes that he's a kid yet, and he's going to have a learning curve."

Klebon had 10 of the Tigers' 21 turnovers.

Southern led 17-14 after the first period, then went on a quick tear to start the second quarter, opening a double-digit lead it held the rest of the night.

"Their (Northwest) record isn't that great but they're a senior-laden team and they've been in a couple of close games," Yost said. "This was a good win for us."

Northwest's Devon Mazonkey topped all scorers with 21 points, hitting 8 of 12 shots from the floor including a couple of 3-pointers. Tyler Meininger had 13 points and knocked down three 3-pointers.

Game Summary

NORTHWEST (45) - Cragle 2 0-0 5, Mazonkey 8 3-5 21, Meininger 5 0-0 13, Fero 0 0-0 0, Sirak 1 0-0 2, Stepanski 0 0-0 0, Margelewicz 0 0-0 0, Piestrak 0 0-0 0, Maurer 1 0-0 2, Walkowiak 1 0-0 2. Totals 18 3-5 45.

SOUTHERN (54) - Klebon 5 3=8 14, Parry 4 7-11 15, Klock 3 2-2 8, Mostik 5 3-4 13, Young 0 0-0 0, Kleman 2 0-0 4, Olson 0 0-0 9, Woods 0 0-0 0, Palacz 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 15-25 54.

3-point FGs: Northwest (6) - Cragle, Mazonkey 2, Meininger 3; Southern (1) - Klebon,