Montour, Lincoln Park on verge of three PIAA finals in row

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Since the PIAA expanded to four basketball classifications in 1983-84, only two WPIAL schools have made it to the PIAA boys championship three years in a row.

Tonight, that number might double.

Montour and Lincoln Park can make history by winning their PIAA semifinal games. Both teams played in the PIAA title games the past two seasons. The only schools to do it three years in a row were Duquesne (1992-94) and Sto-Rox (2002-04).

Class AAA Montour (25-4) plays Archbishop Carroll (22-6) at 7 p.m. at Chambersburg High School; Class A Lincoln Park (22-6) takes on Johnsonburg (27-2) at 7 p.m. at Clarion University.

Senior point guard Devin Wilson has been the common denominator in Montour's success the past three seasons. Wilson, along with senior Kevin Scuilli, are the lone returning starters.

"It says a lot about our guys more than anything," Montour coach Adam Kaufman said of his team's success.

"They buy into the team concept. They really accept their roles and do what's best for the team."

Archbishop Carroll, which defeated Chartiers Valley, 49-46, in the quarterfinals, has size and will provide a challenge for undersized Montour.

Archbishop Carroll is led by 6-foot-6 sophomore forward Derrick Jones and 6-foot-10 sophomore center Ernest Aflakpui. ranks Jones as one of the top 50 sophomores in the country.

Lincoln Park, a charter school in Midland which opened in 2006, returned three starters, but its top two scorers are newcomers -- freshman guard Maverick Rowan and junior transfer Elijah Minnie, who scored 42 points in the quarterfinals.

"Success breeds success," Lincoln Park assistant coach Mike Bariski said. "We wanted this to be a first-rate program and not just throw a team out there."

Lincoln Park's opponent, Johnsonburg, is led by junior guard Cole Peterson.

Should Montour or Lincoln Park win, the schools will next try to earn their first PIAA title. They each finished as runners-up the past two seasons.

Class AAAA

Shawn Anderson likened this to Christmas Eve for him and his New Castle teammates. A win tonight would put the Red Hurricanes (29-0) in the title game for the first time since 1998.

Standing in New Castle's way is eastern power Lower Merion (26-3), which will try to reach the championship for the second year in a row when the two meet at 7 p.m. at Williamsport High School.

The Aces lost to Chester a year ago in the final. Lower Merion's only losses this season were to Chester (in the District 1 championship), Class AAA semifinalist Imhotep Charter and Neumann-Goretti.

Lower Merion has plenty of size. Senior B.J. Johnson is a 6-6 guard who is headed to Syracuse. Johnson's dunk and free throw with 20 seconds left lifted Lower Merion to a 63-62 win against Harrisburg in the quarterfinals. Yohanny Dalembert, a 6-8 senior forward, is the brother of Milwaukee Bucks center Samuel Dalembert.

Anderson, at 6-3, is New Castle's tallest starter. The Red Hurricanes rely heavily on their pressure defense and perimeter shooting. New Castle made 11 3-pointers in a 80-70 quarterfinal win against Erie Cathedral Prep.

Class AA

Beaver Falls (26-3) will attempt to reach the championship for the second year in a row when the Tigers play West Middlesex (25-3) for the second time this season at 7 p.m. today at Sharon High School.

Beaver Falls defeated West Middlesex, 50-41, in the season opener Dec. 7 in the New Castle tournament.

Coach Doug Biega's team certainly will pay a lot of attention to West Middlesex's Matt Dogan, a 6-5 senior guard who averages 25 points per game.

Dogan scored 28 in leading West Middlesex to a victory against Conemaugh Township in the quarterfinals, which put the Big Reds one win away making their first PIAA championship appearance since 1959. Beaver Falls held Dogan to nine points in that earlier meeting.

Beaver Falls, which has won 16 games in a row, beat Lakeview, 56-44, in the quarterfinals. Beaver Falls junior guard Elijah Cottrill is averaging 19 points per game in the PIAA playoffs.

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