Class A boys basketball preview: Lincoln Park fell short of WPIAL, PIAA titles last year but again is favored
By Chris Harlan
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, 10:06 p.m.
If anyone on Lincoln Park's basketball roster has forgotten how last season ended, an early-season refresher has been scheduled.
The Leopards will bus three hours to Elk County to face the same Johnsonburg team that beat them in March, just one game short of the state championship.
“We have some unfinished business,” said Lincoln Park athletic director and assistant coach Mike Bariski, who scheduled the Dec. 17 game at Johnsonburg.
Just like this season's team, tall-and-talented Lincoln Park began last season as preseason favorites to win the WPIAL Class A title and reach the state championship.
But it accomplished neither.
Lincoln Park lost to Clairton in the WPIAL semifinals 71-70 and then was eliminated from the state semifinals by tiny Johnsonburg, 59-53. Those are losses the Leopards won't forget, because their coaches won't let them.
“Every day I say something to our guys about Johnsonburg or Clairton,” Bariski said, “and you can see the fire in their eyes.”
With four starters 6-foot-4 or taller, Lincoln Park looks more like a college team than a Class A school. The tallest is senior Elijah Minnie, a 6-9 forward, but teammates Ryan Skovranko (6-7), Maverick Rowan (6-6) and Chris Pipkin (6-4) form a tall lineup few Class AAAA schools could match.
It's taller than most any lineup coach Mark Javens fielded at Community College of Beaver County, where he won a junior college national championship.
Junior guard Antonio Kellum (6-2) is the fifth starter. A key addition will be freshman point guard Nellie Cummings (5-9), who scored 50 as a Midland eighth grader, Bariski said.
“This is probably our most athletic team from top to bottom,” Bariski said. “We have four guys that all have been looked at or have some type of offer from a Division I school.”
That includes Rowan, a sophomore guard who verbally committed to Pitt. Rowan was Lincoln Park's leading scorer last season when he averaged 22.9 points.
Minnie averaged 21.0 points last season, and Skovranko and Kellum are Division I recruits.
Pipkin, a whose father Chris once led the WPIAL in scoring at New Brighton, joins the Leopards.
With so much talent, the goal remains a state title. Playing Johnsonburg is a reminder that nothing's guaranteed, Bariski said.
“I told them we'll play out in the backyard if that's where you want to play,” Bariski said, “and you can even bring the same three officials you had at Clarion last season.”
Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com 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.