Lincoln Park boys take on Clairton tonight
MIDLAND - Lincoln Park tips off later today for a chance to play in the program's third-straight WPIAL Class A championship game.
The top-seeded Leopards (19-5) take on No. 6 Clairton (15-6) in a Class A semifinal at 8 p.m. today at Keystone Oaks High School in Dormont, Pa.
Lincoln Park got to this point with two blowout victories - 95-37 vs. Mapletown in its playoff opener and 99-58 vs. No. 8 Wilkinsburg in the quarterfinals.
Maverick Rowan, a 6-foot-5 freshman, averaged 32.5 points in those games; 6-8 junior Elijah Minnie averaged 25 points; and 6-6 junior Ryan Skovranko averaged 17 points.
In the Leopards' win against Wilkinsburg, Minnie added 13 blocks and 11 rebounds to his 26 points.
Clairton recorded wins against St. Joseph (74-38) and No. 5 Union (66-55) to advance to this point.
The Bears' basketball season didn't start until Dec. 21 due to the fact the football team won the PIAA Class A title on Dec. 14 - a 20-0 win vs. Dunmore to cap a perfect 16-0 season.
By that time, Lincoln Park already had played six times on the hardwood and stood at 3-3.
The teams have three common opponents - Wilkinsburg and Mapletown, the team's Park has played in the postseason, and Our Lady of Sacred Heart. Clairton split with Wilkinsburg during the regular season, beat Mapletown twice and lost its only meeting with OLSH. Lincoln Park, meanwhile, was 4-0 against the common opponents and won by an average of 37.3 points.
The other Class A semifinal features No. 2 Vincentian (23-1) against No. 4 North Catholic (16-5). Tip is 8 p.m. today at North Hills High School.
It's the third meeting between the teams this season with Vincentian capturing both previous contests.
Lincoln Park and Vincentian are considered among the best small school teams in the commonwealth, ranked 3-4, respectively, in the latest Class A rankings as released by PennLive.com/Patriot-News.
Vincentian's lone loss, 83-81, came Jan. 12 vs. visiting Bishop Carroll (20-4), ranked sixth in Class A.
Lincoln Park is the defending WPIAL champion, having knocked off Vincentian in last season's semifinals. The two teams met in the 2010-11 finals with Vincentian gaining the win.