Tigers rolling into playoffs
CATAWISSA R.R. - Southern Columbia may have missed out on playing in the Heartland Conference tournament, but the Tigers had a lot to play for.
Senior night, District 4 seeding and beating the only team the Tigers hadn't yet defeated in division play was more than enough reason for Southern to come out with guns loaded for Lewisburg.
And the Tigers did their best to ensure what should be a top three seed in the District 4 Class AA playoffs with a 17-5 record, behind Mount Carmel's 18-3 and Williamson's 16-4.
"Being a two or three seed in this district is amazing," Southern Columbia head coach Kevin Collins said. "Basketball in this district is very tough, but it's not over now. We have to step up because other teams will be ready for us."
Lewisburg, which beat Southern by six points in their first meeting, was more than ready.
The Green Dragons jumped out to an 8-6 lead after the first quarter, thanks in part because the Tigers couldn't buy a basket.
Southern shot just 2 for 13 in the quarter, and even pulled down six offensive rebounds.
But what the Tigers couldn't do from the inside in the first quarter, they were able to do with ease from behind the arc in the second.
Kayla Lavella, who scored her 1,000th career point over the weekend, gave the Tigers their first lead at 9-8. The Dragons and Tigers went back and forth before a 3-pointer by Kirstin Blass, a steal and layup by Teanna Shutt and another 3-pointer by Lavella put the Tigers in control.
Blass then scored the Tigers' last two buckets of the half.
Lewisburg's offense, which was paced by Maria Kelleher with 15 points, leaving her eight shy of 1,000, turned the ball over eight times in the second quarter before Kelleher scored twice to pull Lewisburg to within 23-18 at the half.
"I thought we played well," Collins said. "Our pressure and defense stopped them and held them off the 3-point line."
Blass, who led the team with 15 points and had eight rebounds and two assists, and the Tigers went on another run to start the third and build a 34-25 margin.
But Southern didn't score again until Lewisburg scored 11 straight points to take a 36-34 lead.
Southern rebounded and Mackenzie Clark scored the last four points of the game to give the Tigers the win.
"We have some momentum going into the playoffs with four straight since Mount Carmel," Collins said.
"We have to work hard and hopefully win a first-round game."
LEWISBURG (37) - Kelleher 6 1-2 15, Stanko 0 0-0 0, K. Conrad 0 0-0 0, E. Conrad 3 3-4 9, Lesher 4 1-3 9, Blakeslee 1 0-0 2, Auckerman 0 0-0 0, Gajda 1 0-0 2. Totals 15 5-9 37.
SOUTHERN COLUMBIA (41) - Clark 1 3- 5 5, Lavella 4 3-4 13, Blass 6 2-2 15, Tomaschik 1 0-1 2, Gilroy 1 0-2 2, Lyash 0 0-0 0, Schutt 2 0-1 4. Totals 15 8-15 41.
3-point FGs: Kelleher 2, Lavella 2, Blass.