ShareThis Page

Montour, Lincoln Park trying to reach 3rd straight PIAA title game

Chris Harlan
| Monday, March 18, 2013, 11:33 p.m.
Montour's Devin Wilson drives past General McLane's Lukas Hallett during the third quarter of their PIAA Class AAA quarterfinal Friday, March 15, 2013, at New Castle High School.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Montour's Devin Wilson drives past General McLane's Lukas Hallett during the third quarter of their PIAA Class AAA quarterfinal Friday, March 15, 2013, at New Castle High School.
Lincoln Park's Jaylin Cottrill blocks a shot by OLSH's Stefan Arch during their game Friday,  Feb. 1, 2013 in Moon.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Lincoln Park's Jaylin Cottrill blocks a shot by OLSH's Stefan Arch during their game Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 in Moon.

Call his players overachievers, and Montour coach Adam Kaufman wouldn't disagree much.

How could he?

“Our guys have given us everything they have,” said Kaufman, whose Spartans can reach the state championship game for a third consecutive season with a victory Tuesday night over Archbishop Carroll, a talent-rich opponent from Philadelphia's Catholic League.

Only 14 boys basketball teams have reached three straight PIAA title games, an exclusive group Lincoln Park also could join with a semifinal victory over Johnsonburg. But while Lincoln Park was expecting another long postseason run, Montour's wasn't guaranteed.

Montour, which relies on a 6-foot-1 post player, lacks the size of recent Spartan squads. Yet this roster won the program its second WPIAL title in three seasons.

“If you'd asked me at the beginning of the year if we were going to win a championship and get to the state semis, I would have had a hard time saying yes,” Kaufman said.

But here they are, wanting more.

To reach Hershey, Montour must overachieve once again, this time against an Archbishop Carroll (22-6) lineup that features a senior point guard headed to Binghamton, a 6-foot-10 center from Ghana and a 6-5 sophomore already drawing Division I offers.

Montour has talented point guard Devin Wilson, a Division I recruit, and a roster of hard workers who repeatedly have stretched their season and their talent as far as possible.

“With this group, I don't think a lot of people expected us to win a (WPIAL) championship and get as far as we did in the states so far,” Kaufman said. “It's really been rewarding. We weren't expected to win a lot of these games, but because of the types of guys we have, they just keep finding ways to win. It's been a lot of fun.”

That dark horse status has made this postseason run enjoyable, maybe more so than even the past two, he said. A season ago, “the expectation was, if you don't win a championship, it's a failure. That's really hard to handle. There's so much added pressure.”

This time, there's little pressure.

“Are we good enough to win? Yes,” Kaufman said, “but the pressure's not on us. If you look at our roster compared to Archbishop Carroll's, anybody in the gym is going to pick one team to win, and it's not going to be the guys in (Montour's) black and gold.”

A win Tuesday over District 9 champion Johnsonburg would allow Lincoln Park its third straight shot.

“Believe me, that prize for winning a state championship and being the best team in the state is a pretty good feeling if you can get it done,” Lincoln Park coach Mark Javens said. “There's no doubt about it.”

Unlike years past, boys and girls semifinals for all four classifications have been scheduled for the same night. The WPIAL has at least one representative in all eight brackets. The championships are Friday and Saturday at Hershey's Giant Center.

Seton-La Salle, a 2012 champion, and Beaver Falls, last year's runner-up, could make their second straight championship. Yet, potential third straight trips by Montour or Lincoln Park would be remarkable, and would give both programs another chance to win the title that eluded them the past two tries.

Only three WPIAL boys programs have reached the state championship in three consecutive seasons: Duquesne (1992-94), Sto-Rox (2002-04) and Midland (1973-76), which went four consecutive seasons. Mt. Lebanon's girls advanced four times (2008-11).

“I keep talking to them every day about enjoying this,” Kaufman said. “Value the opportunity you have, value the process.”

Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.