Lincoln Park serves notice to WPIAL Class 4A bracket with rout of Yough

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Friday, February 18, 2022 | 9:38 PM


Defending champion Lincoln Park is getting healthy, and that is bad news for the WPIAL Class 4A bracket.

With most of its rotation back together after an assortment of injuries throughout the season, the fifth-seeded Leopards, the highest-scoring team in the classification, put on an offensive show in the first round of the playoffs Friday night on their home floor in Midland.

A 90-38 mercy-ruled rout of No. 12 Yough had breakaway dunks, 3-pointers and enough defensive pressure to make Midland legend Simmie Hill proud. It was impressive in every way, and it proved the Leopards still are very much a title contender.

“We’ve had our ups and downs this season, and we’ve come out slow at times,” sophomore guard Brandin “Bebah” Cummings said. “Tonight, it was go time.”

Cummings was electric in the first two quarters, scoring all of his game-high 24 points in the first half — 15 in the first quarter — as Lincoln Park (16-6) built a brow-raising 68-19 lead by halftime.

The lights went down for the opening lineups, and when they came back on, the Leopards flipped a switch. They tallied 90 or more for the fourth time this season. They had registered 103 against Ambridge, 98 against Beaver, 96 when they played nearby East Liverpool, Ohio.

They advance to face No. 4 North Catholic (18-3) in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. The same teams met in last year’s WPIAL final at North Allegheny with Lincoln Park winning 66-57.

“We didn’t have four of our top six for much of the year, but now we’re starting to get healthy and get going — knock on wood,” Leopards coach Mike Bariski said. “Boy, did we move the ball well tonight. This is a blueprint of success for us. This is the way we want to play.”

Freshman Maleek Thomas, sophomore Dontay Green, junior DeAndre Moye and even Cummings have missed time with injuries.

Another injured player, senior Alil Brown, is working his way back after missing eight games.

The 6-foot-3 Thomas, who has offers from Pitt, St. John’s and UTEP, finished with 18 points, all in an NBA-like first half. The Leopards put up 33 points in the first quarter and 35 in the second.

LA Pratt, a 6-5 Duquesne commit, and Moye, had 11 apiece.

Cummings, who has offers from South Carolina, Youngstown State and Bryant, missed only one game. It didn’t look like he was going to miss a shot Friday.

He made four 3-pointers and had two dunks.

“Sixty-eight is a lot of points,” Cummings said of the first half. “We came out and executed our gameplan.”

For Yough, the first 16 minutes was like a thousand little cuts as the Cougars (13-10) chased their first playoff win since 2004-05.

They took a five-game winning streak into the playoffs. Lincoln Park was like no team that had played before.

“We didn’t compete very well,” said Yough coach Jim Nesser, who was feeling ill coming into the night but did not want to miss the game. “We’re not ready, yet, to compete at that level, at their caliber. This is our first time in the playoffs against this type of team. Wow.”

Sophomore Terek Crosby led Yough with 12 points, including a pair of dunks in the fourth quarter.

Runs of 17-0 and 19-1 run helped the Leopards dominate from end to end. Their largest lead reached 61 (88-27) in the fourth.

Yough led at 2-0 on a layup by Crosby.

“That was our worst defensive possession of the night,” Bariski said.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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