Lincoln Park dominant in WPIAL championship victory over Monessen
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Top-seeded Lincoln Park (25-1) showboated its way to its second WPIAL Class A title in the last three seasons, defeating No. 3 Monessen, 85-41, at Duquesne's A.J. Palumbo Center Friday. The 44-point margin of victory was the largest in a boys WPIAL championship game.
Don't expect the Leopards to apologize to anyone for such a lopsided score.
For a team that's been so often scrutinized after being upset in the semifinals of last season's WPIAL playoffs, that's just the kind of statement Lincoln Park was out to make.
“Lincoln Park's here and we're not going to back down from any team,” senior Elijah Minnie said. “There was all this talk that maybe we'd get upset. The main thing is we came and we got the victory.”
Minnie, a 6-foot-9 forward, posted a dominant stat line of 20 points, 16 rebounds and 12 blocks against the Greyhounds (20-6), whose tallest player is 6-2.
Monessen coach Joe Salvino was vocal leading up to the game about his frustrations that Lincoln Park, a charter school, can draw athletes from various districts — most notably Minnie, a Monessen resident.
“I have no Division I ballplayers on my squad. They have like six,” Salvino said. “If we have to play by the rules then that's what happens.”
Salvino's comments served as added motivation for the Leopards.
“When we read that newspaper we all looked at each other,” Minnie said. “We went to our coach's office, and he read it to us right before we came to this game. He said, ‘If that doesn't make your (rear ends) play hard, then I don't know what will.' ”
Despite the continual jeers from Monessen fans, the Leopards stuck to their own idea of entertaining basketball.
After falling behind 7-0 to the start the game, Lincoln Park outscored Monessen, 47-14, the rest of the half.
“If we could have quit after the seven-point lead, we could've been fine,” said Salvino with a laugh.
Lincoln Park coach Mark Javens had a laugh of his own when asked about the quick Monessen start.
“We wanted to give the crowd a little bit of an exciting moment there before we actually put it on Monessen,” he said. “We're not going to do anything different. We're going to come at you with everything, offensively and defensively.”
Minnie had to be helped off the court after a collision with Monessen senior Clintell Gillaspie in the second quarter with his team leading, 38-21.
He checked back into the game moments later, and announced his return with a high-flying reverse dunk off of a rebound.
A stretch in the third quarter saw Minnie erase four straight Monessen possessions with blocks that led to Lincoln Park baskets. Lincoln Park sophomore guard Maverick Rowan, who finished with a game-high 26 points, said Minnie's Monessen residence was on his teammates' minds.
“We wanted to come out and play hard and beat them pretty bad for Elijah,” Rowan said, “and that's what we did.”
Both teams will advance to the PIAA playoffs, with first-round games starting March 7.
Senior guard Antonio Kellem was the other Lincoln Park scorer in double figures with 16 points.
Senior guard Javon Brown scored 10 points to lead the Greyhounds. Gillaspie, Monessen's regular season leading scorer, scored just seven points after tallying 34 in Monessen's record setting 110-99 victory over Vincentian Academy Tuesday.
Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.
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.
- No summer vacation for Mars boys basketball team
- Belle Vernon coach’s family bonds through basketball