MOUNT CARMEL - They're in.

Mount Carmel, by winning its fourth straight game and eighth out of 10, qualified for the District 4 AA playoffs with a 46-34 Heartland Conference Division II win over Central Columbia on Saturday.

As usual for this team, it wasn't always pretty.

"We eased into that like an old man going into a bathtub," joked Mount Carmel coach John Lazicki.

But as has been the case lately, the Red Tornadoes (11-8, 7-6 Division II) did enough to win.

Or maybe Central (4-14, 4-7) did just enough to lose.

Such as scoring seven (7) points in the first half, making 2 of 17 shots, as Mount Carmel built a 23-7 lead.

The Blue Jays play ultra-deliberate basketball, looking for the perfect shot, and if they're not making them, they're in trouble.

"They're well-coached," Lazicki said. "They run their stuff. When they have good guards, they're tough. And they're big. They scare you. I hate being up by a lot against a team with nothing to lose."

In a game in which possessions are scarce, one thing a team wants to do is take care of the ball, and the Red Tornadoes did that, committing just eight turnovers.

Central did ratchet up its game a notch or two in the second half and began attacking the boards, outscoring Mount Carmel 13-9 in the third quarter to cut the lead to 32-20. The Jays eventually got the lead down to 38-32 on

a 3-point shot by C.J. Hollister with about three minutes left. But by then, they had to foul, and although Mount Carmel wasn't great at the line (8-15 in the last quarter), the Tornadoes were good enough.

Ben Scicchitano led Mount Carmel with 13 points and had several key baskets in the second half when Central started its run.

"Ben came up big a couple of times," Lazicki said. "When it got close he took over the game. He can do that. When he stays within himself, he can be a real good player."

Zach Tocyloski and Elijah Duran each added 10 points.

Payton Aucker had 11 points and Dylan Hine 10 for Central.

The win took the pressure off Mount Carmel for its final three regular season games, at Lourdes, at Warrior Run and at home against Shamokin.

"None of those are going to be easy," Lazicki said.

Game Summary

CENTRAL COLUMBIA (34) - Flick 0 0-0 0, Hollister 1 0-0 3, Norton 0 0-0 0, Hine 3 4-5 10, Brandon 0 0-0 0, Krause 0 0-0 0, Zalewski 1 0-0 3, Eckenrode 0 0-0 0, Duttry 3 0-0 6, Beaver 0 0-0 0, Aucker 4 0-0 11, Barratt 0 0-0 0, Sanders 0 1-2 1. Totals 12 5-7 34.

MOUNT CARMEL (46) - Tocyloski 3 2-3 10, Varano 0 0-0 0, Duran 3 4-8 10, Heromin 1 0-2 2, Scicchitano 5 3-7 13, Wasilewski 0 0-0 0, Kwiatkowski 3 2-2 8, Beierschmitt 1 0-0 3, Kelly 0 0-0 0, Dillion 0 0-0 0, Bergan 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 11-22 46.

3-point FGs: Central (5) - Hollister, Zalewski, Aucker 3; Mount Carmel (3) - Tocyloski 2, Beierschmitt.

JV: Mount Carmel 38, Central 36