If you blinked during December, you may have missed nearly one third of the season.

So consider this a wakeup call, just like some of the area teams do coming off holiday tournaments and extended breaks.

So what's been going on around the area hardwood?

Southern Columbia has started the season like Tigers with their tails on fire, so to speak. Lourdes and Mount Carmel are right where everyone thought they'd be and Shamokin and Line Mountain are scrapping for every win they can get their hands on.

Puns aside, Southern Columbia is playing inspired basketball. The Tigers have begun the season 7-0, including an impressive win at Loyalsock.

What has the Tigers ticking?

Southern seems to be making good on the promises of first-year head coach Kevin Collins to run, but do it smarter.

It also helps that the Tigers have three players in the top 10 in scoring in the area.

Senior Kayla Lavella leads everyone with 21.3 points per game. What has made the biggest difference is that Lavella is getting help in this year. Mackenzie Clark and Mallory Tomaschik are averaging 9.9 and 9.6 ppg, respectively.

How far can the Tigers take this unbeaten streak?

We'll find out soon enough. Southern has Danville on the schedule in the next week and a game against Mount Carmel on Jan. 9 in what could go a long way in determining the HAC Division II champ.

Which brings us to Mount Carmel.

First of all, heartiest congratulations to Christina Perles on reaching the 1,000-point mark for her career.

Next, Perles seems to be molding well to the Red Tornadoes' game plan. She and teammate Ali Varano own the second and third spots, although not in that order, on the scoring list. Varano is averaging 16.6 and Perles 16.4 points per game. The Red Tornadoes are 4-1, winning three straight after a second-game setback to North Schuylkill, which is 7-1 already.

Also with just one loss so far is Lourdes.

The Red Raiders were set to play Shamokin in a Knights of Columbus showcase game Saturday, but Ms. Nature threw a wrench into that and the game will played today at 6:30 p.m.

Lourdes is 5-1 with its only loss coming to Minersville. The Red Raiders are running with every bit as much authority as ever and it's showing in the offensive numbers of junior Rachel Schultz, who is fourth in the area with a 15.0 ppg average, and Sarah Getchey, who is sixth with a 12.5 average.

If the Raiders keep this up, there's no reason not to expect a fifth straight District 4 Class A title.

Line Mountain, which had been the Red Raiders' biggest challenger the past two seasons, will need a dose of luck to reach the playoffs again.

The Eagles are sitting at 2-5 with one of their few experienced players, Jade London (10.7 ppg through her first five) on the bench with an injury.

Sarah Lahr has picked up some of the slack left by graduation losses and is averaging 15.0 ppg after not playing last year.

Last but not least, is Lourdes' opponent in today's city game - Shamokin. The Indians are 4-3, but could be better than that and have used the holiday break in recent seasons to catapult themselves into the playoffs.

Kelsey Yacko is leading the team with 9.9 ppg.

That brings us to a final stumping for a revival next year of the girl's Knights tournament.

While there may be some hard feelings in various corners of the area, the recent success of area teams on the district stage is all the more reason why four good, local teams should be facing off to see who is the best. This year for instance, all four teams are good enough to sustain the two losses that someone would have gotten from playing, so that shouldn't be a concern for anyone. More to the point, there are too many good teams in the immediate vicinity for them to keep circling each other like ships in the night without seeing who is best. That's what competition is all about.