PIAA basketball: Lincoln Park caps 30-1 season with state title
HERSHEY – Sophomore standout Maverick Rowan scored 37 points and WPIAL champ Lincoln Park capped its 30-1 season with a 70-66 victory over District 1 champ Math, Civics & Science Charter in the PIAA Class A boys basketball state championship game Friday afternoon in the Giant Center.
Lincoln Park, which won its 24th game in a row, lost in its previous two trips to state championship games. Against MC&S, the Leopards overcame the Mighty Elephants’ 13-0 third-quarter run and a double-digit deficit, taking the lead for good, 61-59, with 2:37 to go in regulation when Rowan, a 6-7 shooting guard, made both ends of a 1-and-1.
“We just had to keep our heads in there and stay positive,” Rowan said of Lincoln Park’s rally from 16 points down. “We were finally able to make a couple of plays and get the momentum and we took it from there. There was no panic at all. It was business as usual. This is a great feeling.”
This was a rematch of the 2011 state-championship game, won by MC&S 70-55 in Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center. Lincoln Park also fell to Constitution in the 2012 state final, by a 58-49 score, at Penn State.
Senior 6-7 guard Ryan Skovranko added 10 points for Lincoln Park, which closed the game on a 19-9 run and snapped MC&S’s four-game winning streak. MC&S entered the playoffs with a losing record, before ripping off victories against Delco Christian, Sullivan County, Church Farm and previously undefeated St. John Neumann in the state semifinals.
MC&S finished its season 15-15 overall.
Samir Doughty scored 26 points and Mike Watkins, a junior Penn State commit, had 17 points and 17 rebounds for the Mighty Elephants, who outrebounded Lincoln Park 47-32, but couldn’t overcome 18 turnovers.
“I have to give my kids all the credit in the world,” Lincoln Park coach Mark Javens said. “They never quit and they showed a lot of composure. I couldn’t be more pleased. No matter what classification, to win any championship is very difficult. It’s a great win for us.”
Neumann Goretti 64, Susquehanna Township 57:
Neumann Goretti, out of the Philadelphia Catholic League, won its fourth PIAA Class AAA boys’ basketball championship in five years on Friday night.
The Saints needed overtime to subdue District 3 champion Susquehanna Township 64-57 in a game in which neither team led by more than five points in regulation at Giant Center.
Neumann-Goretti (27-4) outscored the Indians 11-4 in overtime, and all four Susquehanna Township (23-8) points in the extra session came from the free-throw line.
Saints guard Ja’Quan Newton, a Miami recruit whose mom died from breast cancer the day before the state final, torched the Indians with a game-high 33 including six in overtime.
Neumann-Goretti coach Carl Arrigale said Newton “just let the game come to him.”
“It was an unbelievable performance,” Arrigale said. “I’ve coached a lot of great players. That was the best performance I’ve seen. He’s a great player. Somebody took over his body. It was emotional.”
Newton made five of his first six shot from beyond the 3-point arc and finished 11 of 19 from the floor and 6-for-8 from the foul line. He also had a team-high eight rebounds.
“When we got to overtime, I knew I had to do it,” Newton said. “I wasn’t going to lose this game. Susquehanna Township was better than I thought. They kept coming back, and every time they needed a bucket they made the shot. I tip my hat to them.”
Each club had a shot to win the state title in the final 20 seconds, but Susquehanna Township’s Gabriel Mack had his 12-foot jumper blocked by Tony Toplyn.
The Saints went tearing down the court, and Newton had a short jumper spin out and his tip was also off inside the final 5 seconds of regulation.
Newton had the only field goal in overtime, with a bucket in the opening 20 seconds. The other 13 points came from the charity stripe.
Susquehanna Township, led by 18 points from Quintin Ward, made only 57 percent of its 21 free-throw attempts. Neumann-Goretti was 18-for-26 from the foul line.
Seton-La Salle 58, Neumann-Goretti 50: For the second time in three seasons, WPIAL champion Seton-La Salle walked away from the sweetest place on earth with the girls’ PIAA Class AA basketball title.
In the process, the Rebels knocked off the state’s last unbeaten, outracing Philadelphia product Neumann-Goretti 58-50 at Giant Center.
The Rebels (27-4) were paced by Nicolete Newman (17 points), Cassidy Walsh (11) and Yacine Diop, one of three University of Pittsburgh recruits for Rebels first-year head coach Spencer Stefko. Diop recorded a double-double with 10 points and 23 rebounds.
Emmanuella Awobajo led three double-digit scorers for Neumann-Goretti, denied a perfect 30-0 season. The Saints (29-1) rallied from a 28-17 halftime deficit to take the lead, 46-44, with 5:28 remaining.
Seton-La Salle, however, connected on 10 of 12 from the free-throw line down the stretch, holding off a high-powered Neumann-Goretti side that converted just 16 of 66 shots from the floor. The Saints also shot under 17-percent (5-for-30) from the 3-point arc.
“It feels good. It feels really, really good,” said Diop, a senior and member of Senegal’s U18 National Team. Diop chipped in six blocks. “Defensively, that’s the best game I’ve ever played. We were a little bit nervous but we were able to do it.”
Behind Awobajo and slick guards Ciani Cryor (12 points) and Sianni Martin (10), Letty Santarelli’s Catholic League champions stayed tight despite their shooting woes. Still, after a pair of Martin free throws pushed the Saints ahead for the first time, Neumann-Goretti’s next bucket came on a Kamiah Smalls lay up with under a minute to play.
Newman and Walsh took care of the rest from the line.
“All year there would be games where we make them and games where we don’t,” said Stefko. “What our kids did a great job of doing was making sure the right kids at the end were on the line.”
Cumberland Valley 49, Spring-Ford 30: One year after its runner-up finish, District 3 champion Cumberland Valley settled a score with Spring-Ford.
Sophomore swing guard Kelly Jekot scored 16 points and guard Taylor Sneidman chipped in 12 as the Eagles upended the defending Class AAAA champion Rams 49-30.
Cumberland Valley (28-5) hauled in the program’s second Class AAAA title (2002), taking advantage of Spring-Ford’s uneven offense that produced just three field goals in the final 16 minutes. Lafayette recruit Sammy Stipa, averaging 13.7 points per game, finished with a team-high 11 points for the Rams (27-7), which trailed 23-14 at intermission. Spring-Ford never recovered.
Forward Maddie Torresin added nine points for coach Bill Wolf’s Eagles, a competitive 18 of 37 from the floor. Cumberland Valley shot better than 52-percent in the second half.
“It wasn’t any big revenge thing, it was more about us getting out here and winning a state championship,” said Wolf, who also guided Central Dauphin to the 2008 title. “We wanted to get the early lead and set the tone. I thought a big part of that was Sneidman’s 3-pointer just before halftime.”
Cumberland Valley, more comfortable in open space, rode the 6-1 Jekot’s hot hand early, leaning ahead 20-12 with under two minutes left in the opening half. Just before the horn, Sneidman’s triple made it a nine-point scrap. It helped that Eagles junior Jen Falconer was locked in on Stipa, Spring-Ford’s field general.
The Rams, who outraced Cumberland Valley 60-45 in the 2013 state final, also snapped the Eagles 10-game winning streak earlier this season, winning 52-37 in Royersford. Shelby Mueller added eight points and seven rebounds for coach Mickey McDaniel’s Rams.