CATAWISSA R.R. - Southern Columbia started the year by rattling off seven straight wins.

Since then, the Tigers have been inconsistent, losing four of the next 10.

With five games remaining before the Tigers tipped off with Loyalsock, head coach Kevin Collins had one message for his team: "I told the girls, 'We have five games left. We could easily go 0-5 or 5-0.'"

The Tigers won easily Thursday, 55-36, over the Lancers and have four games remaining before the playoffs start to find the rhythm that seemed to come so easily to them in the beginning of the season.

"We need to start clicking," Collins said. "We have four games now before districts start."

Those games won't be easy.

The stretch starts Saturday against Mount Carmel, and includes Montoursville, Central Columbia and Lewisburg. Mount Carmel, Montoursville and Lewisburg, like Southern, have already qualified for the District 4 Class AA playoffs and are jockeying for the top seed.

Thursday, however, was all about getting a win and finding that early-season form.

The Tigers took a 14-7 lead after the first quarter and were still up by twice Loyalsock's total going into the half at 24-12.

In the first 16 minutes, Southern did all the things a height-challenged squad must, penetrate to create open shots and hustle for rebounds.

Southern outrebounded Loyalsock 19-9 in the first half and went to the free throw line five times, a direct result of driving the ball into the paint and forcing contact.

"When we get out of not penetrating and looking inside is when we don't play well," Collins admitted. "When we rely on the 3-point shot, we don't play well. We have to get easy baskets."

The outside shot did work well for Southern, however, with Kirstin Blass and Mackenzie Clark hitting back-to-back 3-pointers early in the first quarter.

The Tigers extended their lead drastically in the third quarter. Southern outscored Loyalsock 27-5, with Kayla Lavella scoring 10 of her game-high 18 points in the third frame.

Lavella also hit two 3-pointers in that stretch, and while the Tigers aren't focusing on her chase of 1,000 career points, Collins was able to rattle off that Lavella needs just 47 points.

"We don't talk about it. We have four games left and she needs 47 points. She can do it," the first-year coach said.

Loyalsock made the score respectable with a 19-4 fourth quarter as Southern shuffled substitutes on and off the floor.

Clark finished with 13 for Southern, and Mallory Tomaschik added 13 for the Tigers.

Blass scored seven points and came down with seven rebounds in a total team effort for Southern.

"I was happy with our performance tonight," Collins said. We played like we did early in the year."

And that has the potential to be very bad for the Tigers' upcoming opponents.

Game Summary

LOYALSOCK (36) - Hill 1 0-0 3, Daskivich 1 0-0 2, A. Pagana 1 2-3 4, Burdett 2 0-1 4, Fox 0 0-1 0, McKernan 0 1-2 1, S. Pagana 5 5-8 15, Salvatori 1 1-2 3, Cordilla 1 0-0 2, Gee 0 2-3 2. Totals 12 11-20 36.

SOUTHERN COLUMBIA (55) - Clark 5 2-2 13, Lavella 8 0-1 18, Lyash 2 0-1 4, Blass 3 0-0 7, Tomaschik 4 5-8 13, Daubert 0 0-0 0, Levan 0 0-2 0, Gilroy 0 0-0 0, Chaundy 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 7-14 55.

3-point FGs: Hill, Clark, Lavella 2, Blass.