Dominant as ever, Lincoln Park beats Montour in 1st section game in 4A

Friday, January 15, 2021 | 11:19 PM

Lincoln Park entered the WPIAL in the 2007-2008 season and has been a dominant force in boys basketball since Day 1.

In their early years, they played in Class A based on enrollment. They moved up in the last decade to Class 2A and then to Class 3A.

On Friday, the Leopards played their first section game in Class 4A and the beat goes on. Lincoln Park pulled away in the fourth quarter to defeat previously undefeated Montour, 61-52.

“We like that,” Lincoln Park coach Mike Bariski said. “Nothing against 3A. Aliquippa and Beaver Falls were wars every time we played them, but sometimes there were some games that gave you pause to see what we’re going to do about it. But this now, I think we’re in the best section in basketball.”

Besides Montour, the Leopards will be squaring off twice with perennial postseason programs such as Ambridge, Blackhawk, Central Valley and Quaker Valley.

The game was a defensive battle from the start. Despite a hectic up-and-down pace by both teams, traps and turnovers became the norm in a low-scoring opening half.

Neither team could build more than a five-point lead in the first two quarters as the visiting Leopards went to the locker room up 28-26 at the half.

“We picked the ball up, and that’s not the team we are,” Bariski said. “So when they double you, the worst thing you can do is pick the ball up.”

Lincoln Park led 42-38 after three quarters and built the lead to seven early in the fourth. However, some hot shooting behind the arc by senior Luke Persinger pulled Montour to within two points at 46-44.

The Spartans had a chance to tie the game midway through the fourth, but junior Tyriq Eleam missed two free throws.

Lincoln Park then went on a 9-0 run to take the first double-digit lead of the game and take control for a section-opening win.

Senior Dakari Bradford led the Leopards with 24 points.

“Dakari Bradford is our bread and butter,” Bariski said. “He’s athletic. He’s 6-5. He can shoot it. He had a big three. He’s our horse.”

Junior Joe Scott chipped in 16 points for Lincoln Park (1-0, 2-2).

“Joe Scott is very athletic. We missed him early for a couple of games,” Bariski said. “He’s new. He didn’t play last year, so he’s just a baby when it comes to basketball.”

Persinger led the way for Montour (2-1, 2-1) with 20 points.

“This is a tough place to play with a great coach (Bill Minear) on the other side. Bill and I are great friends,” Bariski said. “We’ve always thought Lincoln Park basketball was legit. Maybe this win gives us a little more stamp on being legit and playing in 4A.”

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