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Lincoln Park wins WPIAL Class A boys title

| Saturday, March 3, 2012

No silver lining this time. Only gold.

It took three tries, but Lincoln Park finally emerged a winner in the WPIAL Class A championship game. Following losses the past two seasons to Vincentian Academy and Sewickley Academy -- along with a runner-up finish in last year's PIAA final -- the top-seeded Leopards earned a set of gold medals Friday by topping undersized-but-feisty Cornell, 74-57.

"Three years," said senior center Devontae Watson, who scored 17 points and grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds, "but we finally got it."

It's the first championship for the 5-year-old program -- and one that evokes strong emotions for Midland, the small Beaver County community that Lincoln Park (22-4) calls home. Long-closed Midland High School won eight WPIAL titles from 1965-79.

"We'll take it," Leopards coach Mark Javens said. "The first two (title games) didn't feel really good, but this one feels pretty good. I'm happy for the seniors."

Trey Hosack, one of Javens' four seniors, scored a game-high 27 points and made up for some lost time. The 6-foot shooting guard sat out last season, when he transferred to Ambridge, was ruled ineligible and returned to Lincoln Park. He said it was "horrible" watching his team lose WPIAL and PIAA title games.

"It just gets to you, knowing that you could have been the one to help the team get the WPIAL and state championships," Hosack said.

Hosack had 16 points in the first half and played a big role in two 8-0 runs. Watson, a 6-11 Temple recruit, also was dominant, collecting five of his nine blocked shots before halftime, when the Leopards led, 34-23.

Speedy Cornell (19-6), a No. 6 seed that lost a pair of Section 1 matchups to Lincoln Park, was able to keep pace much of the second half, but Lincoln Park's control of the boards made it difficult to mount a comeback.

"We don't have the height, but we do have the heart," coach Bill Sacco said. "We try as hard as we can, but to go against (Watson), who's pretty athletic and pretty agile, that's pretty tough to do."

Corey Mackey led the Raiders with 18 points, and fellow senior Dustin Gloins had 11. Lincoln Park's Jaylyn Cottrill and Antonio Kellam added 11 and 10 points.

Both teams begin play in the PIAA tournament next Friday. Lincoln Park will meet the fourth-place team from District 9; Cornell will face the District 10 runner-up.

At the moment, though, the Leopards are going to enjoy the first title in school history.

"It feels amazing that this gold is around my neck," Hosack said. "It's not just another silver medal."

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