Wilder guides Lincoln Park boys past Richland into PIAA Class 3A semifinals

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Saturday, March 16, 2019 | 6:48 PM


Two-time WPIAL champion Lincoln Park is headed to another state semifinal round in boys basketball.

Andre Wilder scored 26 points, including eight during a crucial fourth-quarter run, and Lincoln Park turned back District 6 champion Richland in the PIAA Class 3A quarterfinals Saturday at Hempfield.

It is the Leopards’ eighth trip to the PIAA final four in 12 seasons as a Beaver County charter school.

Lincoln Park (25-4) will meet District 10 champion Sharon (24-4) in the semifinals Tuesday at a site to be determined. Sharon, in another quarterfinal-round game Saturday, defeated Deer Lakes, the WPIAL’s sixth-place team, 68-42, at Slippery Rock University.

Lincoln Park’s speed and athleticism were too much for Richland (21-7), which lost to Neumann-Goretti in the 2018 PIAA championship game.

“That team made us work. They gave us everything we could handle,” Lincoln Park coach Mike Bariski said of the Rams, who were led by Caleb Burke’s 21 points and New Hampshire football commit Collin Instone’s 20.

“But,” Bariski added, “when we put our pedal to the metal, and when we started to play faster in the second half, that’s when we started to stretch it out a little.”

Isaiah Smith added 12 points and Keeno Holmes chipped in 10 for Lincoln Park, which opened the fourth quarter on a 12-2 run, sparked by Wilder’s scoring spree of four baskets.

“Since the WPIAL championship game (against North Catholic), Wilder has stepped it up,” Bariski said. “We talk about Charles Barkley. We talk about that effort, and that’s what he gives us, that buck in the middle. Rebound it and go back outside. He’s a bulldog.”

The 6-foot-3 Wilder battled the 6-3 Instone inside throughout, but Bariski said Wilder fought off fatigue as the game wore on, allowing Instone a bit of freedom around the rim.

“(Wilder) runs well, he shoots well, and he has a high motor,” Bariski said. “You’ve got to have a high motor to play for me.”

Lincoln Park scored the first 10 points of the fourth quarter to take a 62-46 lead, then kept Richland at arm’s length the rest of the way.

“They’re a team that likes to play basketball. You can tell that,” said Burke, a junior point guard, who reached 1,000 career points on two free throws with 14 seconds left in the game.

“They work very hard and shoot the ball well. They do all the little things right. We played very hard, though, and gave those guys a run for their money.”

Burke’s dad, Greg Burke, who coaches the Rams, echoed his son’s sentiments.

“They’re a good-shooting team,” he said of Lincoln Park. “Literally, they were shooting from 23 feet, and when they make it, there’s nothing you can do.”

The Leopards made eight 3-point shots compared to five for Richland. All of Smith’s points came on four 3-pointers for Lincoln Park.

Burke and Instone kept Richland within striking distance in the second half, scoring 29 of the Rams’ 32 points.

“They’re their top dogs,” Bariski said. “Burke can play for me any time. And (Joe Hauser) is a great athlete. He was their quarterback on the football team. He’s a knock-down shooter.”

Hauser added 10 points for Richland, including two 3-point shots, but was held scoreless in the second half.

Lincoln Park jumped on Richland for a 9-2 lead and built its advantage to as many as 13 points (27-14) early in the second quarter.

But Richland used an 11-0 run to close within 27-25, capped by Instone’s layup on a slick feed from Burke.

Smith’s 3-pointer with 1 minute, 4 seconds left in the first half ended Lincoln Park’s drought and gave the Leopards a 30-25 lead at the break.

“I told the guys about ebbs and flows,” Bariski said. “We played really well and we played really bad today, at both ends of the spectrum. When we play fast, we play pretty good. But when we slow it down, that’s when teams can hang with us. We wanted to play as fast as possible.”

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