Lincoln Park headed back to Hershey after PIAA semifinal win over Sharon

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019 | 9:22 PM


Lincoln Park’s Isaiah Smith launched a 3-pointer from deep in the left corner and then slapped the floor in celebration as his fourth-quarter shot squeezed through the rim.

The Leopards hadn’t made a shot in more than 4 minutes and their 19-point lead was down to three.

“I had to hit that one,” Smith said. “That was momentum for us. … Once I hit that and the crowd went crazy, I knew we had that one sealed.”

The junior made another from the same spot a few minutes later — his sixth 3-pointer — as Lincoln Park held on to defeat Sharon, 67-58, in a PIAA Class 3A semifinal Tuesday at New Castle.

Smith‘s clutch shots halted an 18-2 run.

“That corner is his spot,” Lincoln Park coach Mike Bariski said, “so when he takes that shot, I’m pretty confident. We shoot 3s. We live and die by that.”

The Leopards went 10 for 26 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Andre Wilder scored a career-high 28 points with three 3s and Smith finished with 20 points, earning the WPIAL champions a spot in the state finals. Lincoln Park (26-4) faces District 3 champion Trinity (26-3) at 2 p.m. Saturday in Hershey.

The PIAA championship appearance will be the fifth overall for Lincoln Park and its second in three years.

“I kind of figured they were going to make a run, because a lot of teams have done that to us in the past,” Wilder said. “Me and my team, we were prepared for that.”

Lincoln Park led 50-31 in the third quarter, but Sharon stormed back with an 18-2 run that began with two minutes left in the third. The Leopards made one shot — a jumper by Casey Oliver — in the span of six and a half minutes.

Their lead was down to 52-49 after a jumper by Sharon’s Ethan Porterfield with four minutes left in the fourth.

“Things unraveled because they finally got their run,” Bariski said. “They hadn’t had a run up until then. We knew it was going to come. I didn’t know it was going to be that good of a run. Porterfield got alive.”

Porterfield, a 6-foot-8 senior, led Sharon (23-5) with 23 points and Frank Shaffer had 10. Porterfield scored 15 in the second half.

Smith dashed Sharon’s rally with a pair of 3-pointers from the same spot in the left corner. His first, with 3:50 left, gave Lincoln Park a 55-49 lead. His second pushed the Leopards’ lead to 60-53 with 1:25 left.

Smith, who transferred last summer from Sewickley Academy to Lincoln Park, went 6 for 13 from 3-point range.

In between Smith’s late 3s, Oliver lofted a key runner over Porterfield. The Leopards then converted 7 of 8 free throws in the final 78 seconds to clinch the win.

Keeno Holmes added 11 points for Lincoln Park, which never trailed after taking an 11-10 lead in the first quarter.

The Leopards stretched their lead to 38-23 at half behind Wilder, who scored 18 first-half points.

Wilder was a 10- to 12-point scorer in the regular season but has starred in the playoffs. Three days after scoring 26 points in the quarterfinals, the 6-3 junior made his first seven shots Tuesday and finished 11 for 13 from the field.

He scored 12 points in the second quarter including a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

“His confidence is so high,” Smith said. “I’ve been playing AAU with Dre since fourth grade. This is the highest I’ve seen his confidence.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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