Defense carries Lincoln Park to PIAA quarterfinal victory

| Friday, March 14, 2014, 10:30 p.m.

Although Lincoln Park is known for having top-level talent on the offensive end, its defense was on full display Friday.

Lincoln Park (29-1) held Vincentian Academy (24-4) to its season-low point total in a 99-64 victory in the PIAA Class A quarterfinals at North Allegheny.

“If someone were to ask me to sum this up, they beat us,” said Vincentian coach George Yokitis, whose team averaged 90.5 points per game. “They played hard, they're well coached, and they're nice kids. They don't talk trash or anything.”

The WPIAL champion Leopards now advance to the state semifinals Tuesday, where they will play District 6 champion Bishop Carroll (28-0) at a time and location to be determined.

Sophomore Maverick Rowan led Lincoln Park with 37 points in a dominant performance. Seniors Elijah Minnie and Ryan Skovranko scored 18 and 14 points, respectively, and freshman Nelly Cummings added 10 points in a balanced scoring effort.

“Maverick is Maverick. He'll put the ball in the hoop no matter who we play and what day it is,” Lincoln Park assistant coach Mike Bariski said. “But Nelly did a nice job. He got the ball to his teammates today, which allowed us to build that lead.”

Skovranko started the scoring with two 3-pointers and hit a third at the end of the first quarter to give his team a 23-12 lead.

“It's really good for Ryan Skovranko,” Bariski said. “That gets his confidence going right off the bat.”

Cummings completed a three-point play when he was fouled on a layup attempt in the midst of a 20-2 run to build an 85-51 lead in the fourth quarter. Eventually the lead would be stretched to 92-56, the largest of the game.

“Cummings is very talented,” Bariski said. “We tell him all the time he just has to know when to go and when to slow.”

For Vincentian, Jim Kenna scored 18 points, Ryan Wolf 16, Jamison Nee 14, and the Royals made 14 3-pointers to combat Lincoln Park's zone defense.

But it wasn't enough.

“We had to stop them from penetrating and shooting,” Minnie said. “We had to play long and big like we usually do every game.”

Lincoln Park's length was disruptive on both ends, allowing the Leopards to slow down Vincentian's fast paced attack.

“I think we played our game and that's why we won,” Rowan said. “We came out and played hard, did what we were supposed to do, and came out on top.”

The Leopards also had their way on the offensive end, falling just short of their season high of 101.

Rowan scored just seven points in the first quarter but came alive after that. He scored from all over the floor, almost at will, for the rest of the game.

“I wanted to win,” Rowan said. “That's pretty much that.”

Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at

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