Deer Lakes boys can’t contain Lincoln Park as Leopards move on

Monday, March 8, 2021 | 8:28 PM

The Lincoln Park boys basketball team is like a train: Once it gets moving, it normally can’t be stopped.

On Monday, in a WPIAL Class 4A quarterfinal game, No. 10 Deer Lakes (10-4) tried to slow down the No. 2 Leopards (16-5) as much as possible, but it didn’t last long.

After a slow start, the Leopards raced to a 13-point first-quarter lead before cruising to a 72-53 win behind 20 points from junior guard L.A. Pratt.

“Teams try to slow us down, but we try to speed them up and we did that tonight in the first half,” Leopards coach Mike Bariski said.

The Leopards advance to the semifinals Thursday to take on No. 3 Montour.

Heading into Monday’s matchup, the Lancers knew they would need to slow down the Leopards if they were to have a chance, and for the first two minutes, they did.

The game was scoreless until the 6-minute mark of the first quarter, when Lancers guard Armend Karpuzzi scored two of his team-high 18 points in the lane.

“With teams like them or like a North (Catholic), we try to take them out of what they like to do,” Deer Lakes coach Terence Parham said. “Before the game, the head coach (Bariski) said they tried to slow it down against Knoch, and it actually messed them up. So we thought if we could do that we might be OK.”

But the Leopards like to run for a reason, and after their experience against Knoch, Bariski said never again.

“When you have thoroughbred race horses and try to get them to walk, it’s just not going to work,” Bariski said.

So when they could, the Leopards ran and did so efficiently. Freshman Brandin Cummings, who was making his first start of the season and scored 18 points, sparked a 16-4 run to end the first quarter.

“Beebah Cummings was a star tonight in his very first start,” Bariski said. “We did that because they had four guards, and our two bigs couldn’t match up so stuff like that makes me look like a genius because he had a great game tonight.”

Cummings had eight of the 16 points during that first-quarter run, and at least three of those baskets came off forced turnovers. Pratt and others got into the mix as well as they pressured Deer Lakes and consistently forced turnovers, which turned into easy baskets at the other end.

“(Cummings) and L.A. (Pratt) are so long that if you don’t keep the ball away from them they can just reach in and take it,” Bariski said. “Besides their length, they’re quick, too. But (Cummings) sparked that run and had three steals that led to easy buckets.”

Lincoln Park took a 37-22 lead into halftime, but the Lancers came out of the break with a renewed sense of energy. Behind five points from Karpuzzi, the Lancers started the second half on a 7-2 run and cut Lincoln Park’s lead to 10.

“We really just competed there,” Parham said. “As long as there was time on the clock and they were keeping score, we wanted to compete, and our goal was to cut it to 10.”

It didn’t take long for the Leopards to get going again, though, and they went on a 15-4 run that gave them a sizable advantage they maintained.

“That can demoralize a young team, and we kind of hit a wall there,” Parham said. “They continued to do what they do, and they turn it up on you. It doesn’t matter what five they sub in there. They are all athletic and quick.

“It’s a learning lesson, and I tip my hat off to coach and his team.”

Dakari Bradford also scored 13 for Lincoln Park.

Bryce Robson scored 16 points for Deer Lakes, and Lucas Tiglio scored 13 — all in the fourth quarter.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at or via Twitter .

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