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2014 High School Sports Memorable Moment: Lincoln Park Comes Back to Win States

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In 2011, Lincoln Park was crushed by the Philadelphia Math, Civics and Science Charter School, 70-55, in the Pennsylvania Single A State Championship.

In 2012, they advanced to the title game again. And again, the Leopards fell short.

Now in 2014, hoping that the third time would be a charm, the Leopards got their chance at revenge, facing MCS Charter once again in the Class A championship game.

Several times during the course of the game, it appeared that LP was headed for another disappointing loss.

Not this time.

“We kept telling the guys that we had some momentum (the first time we played), and we let it get away,” Lincoln Park assistant coach Mike Bariski said. “When we got momentum against them this time, we didn’t want to let up at all.”

Lincoln Park started the game by having trouble shooting from the field. The team opened by making only 8 of their first 27 field goal attempts, and the Mighty Elephants took advantage against a team that had not been challenged throughout their playoff run.

The Leopards found themselves down 14 nearing halftime, but then-sophomore Maverick Rowan took matters into his own hands, racking up nine consecutive points to cut the deficit to 38-33 at the half. Rowan, who has since transferred out of Lincoln Park to Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., continued to produce in the early parts of the second half, and the Leopards pulled within 2.

But MCS Charter’s Mike Watkins, a Penn State recruit, helped lead the Mighty Elephants on a 10-0 run, and Lincoln Park found themselves down 54-42 in the later parts of the third quarter.

“We knew we were still OK,” Bariski said.

Throughout most of the game, Bariski says there was clamoring from the Lincoln Park bench about how MCS Charter was roughing them up. Once the Leopards starting pushing back, Bariski said, the tide turned.

“When we finally figured out to be a little tough, I don’t think they liked it very much,” Bariski said.

The Mighty Elephants were not able to adapt to Lincoln’s Park change in play, and they only made 4 of their 21 field goal attempts in the fourth quarter.

The Leopards and Rowan took advantage of their cold-shooting, and the Lincoln Park offense, which Bariski described as “organized mayhem,”Lincoln Park Maverick Rowan began to flow. With 2:37 left to play in the game, Rowan hit the free throw that gave Lincoln Park the lead for good. Rowan hit four late free throws and posted a game high 37 points while playing all 32 minutes on the court. Elijah Minnie added 8 points, 8 rebounds and 9 blocks for the Leopards.

Lincoln Park ended the year 30-1 and outscored their five PIAA playoff opponents by a combined 183 points. And while finally getting that monkey off their back, Bariski says they are now looking towards this year.

“We’re on them every day,” he said “I remind them that we are defending champions, and defending champions in every sport, everyone’s after you.”

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