Lincoln Park’s Andre Wilder delays knee surgery with PIAA 1st-round win

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Saturday, March 7, 2020 | 10:11 PM


Andre Wilder is trying to postpone knee surgery one win at a time.

The Lincoln Park senior will have the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee repaired once his season ends, whenever that might be, but he’s optimistic it won’t be for another couple of weeks.

With just one good leg, Wilder scored driving layups on consecutive third-quarter possessions Saturday as Lincoln Park defeated Penns Valley, 67-59, in a PIAA Class 3A first-round game at Fox Chapel. The Leopards’ lead was down to three before Wilder’s back-to-back baskets.

His layups were part of a 15-5 run.

“It’s amazing that he’s playing on that injury,” Lincoln Park coach Mike Bariski said.

Isaiah Smith led Lincoln Park with 20 points and Wilder scored 17 as the Leopards (22-5) advanced to face District 9 champion Brookville (18-7) in the second round Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.

Wilder hopes his team has four more games. That would mean the defending state champions returned to Hershey.

And, if so, he also is hopeful his knee will hold up for all of them.

“It’s really, really hard,” said Wilder, a 6-foot-3 forward. “Especially having to go day in and day out, practice, practice, practice, and then a game right after, with minimal rest. You’ve got to be on point with the icing and ibuprofen.”

His leg is feeling “more and more tired” late in the season.

“I just pray that I can make it through it all,” he said.

L.A. Pratt added 12 points for Lincoln Park, and Dakari Bradford scored 10. Logan Snyder led Penns Valley with 28 points including six 3-pointers, Zach Braucht scored 15 with four 3s and John Aston added 12 points.

Bariski intended to rest Wilder in the second half against the third-place team from District 6. But Penns Valley wouldn’t go away easily, and Lincoln Park’s other forwards were in foul trouble.

Montae Reddix fouled out in the third quarter, and Tanner Mathos drew his fifth foul with more than 4 minutes left in the fourth, so Wilder’s availability was vital. He helped Lincoln Park lead 49-39 after three and hold off any Penns Valley comeback in the fourth.

He also contributed to a 14-0 run in the first half to lead 17-12 after one and 33-24 at half.

“Since this is my third time being here (in the state playoffs), it’s just like another game for me,” Wilder said. “You’ve just got to take care of business and move on to the next game. That’s my mindset.”

This was Lincoln Park’s first game in nine days. Many teams would schedule scrimmages during a break that long, but Bariski didn’t, believing rest would be better. That layoff led to some sloppy moments Saturday.

“We didn’t scrimmage on purpose, trying to get a little healthy, in better shape, and get our minds right,” Bariski said.

Wilder tore his ACL before the season while playing basketball with Smith at a local YMCA. Wilder hyper extended his knee while trying to stop Smith from driving to the basket.

Smith urged him to get up.

“I instantly fell to the ground,” Wilder said. “I told him, ‘I can’t get up.’”

Wilder could have chosen immediate surgery, which would’ve cost him his entire senior season. Instead, he elected for physical therapy, a giant knee brace and a chance to play.

“The doctor said you can’t hurt it any worse,” said Bariski, who accompanied Wilder and his parents to the doctor. “If it hurts, you can have surgery during the season. Or ice it and have surgery at the end of the season.”

Wilder averaged 13 points and seven rebounds in the regular season.

The injury, he said, has changed his perspective.

“In the game, in the moment, I’m just my normal self taking things for granted,” Wilder said. “But every now and then, I have to check back in with reality and say, Dang, I’m glad that I’m still playing.

“I couldn’t be more grateful.”

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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