With three starters standing at least 6 feet 5, Lincoln Park towered over its PIAA Class A semifinal opponent, District 9 champion Johnsonburg.
But the Leopards' inability to take care of the basketball cost them a trip to their third consecutive trip to the state championship game, as they fell, 59-53, Tuesday night at Clarion University.
"We picked a bad time to not protect the basketball," said Lincoln Park coach Mark Javens. "Johnsonburg gets a lot of credit, but we had chances to win the game."
Lincoln Park (22-7) led, 28-25, at halftime, with Elijah Minnie scoring 13 points.
But starting at the four-minute mark of third quarter, Johnsonburg (28-2) went on the decisive 19-13 run over the next 8:05, forcing seven turnovers in that span.
For the game, Lincoln Park turned the ball over 22 times.
"We could have played better," Javens said.
Minnie, who is 6-9 and scored 42 points in Lincoln Park's PIAA quarterfinal win Friday against Bishop Carroll Friday, finished with a game-high 25.
But Lincoln Park's other two top scorers, 6-foot-5 Maverick Rowan and 6-foot-6 Ryan Skovranko, finished with a combined 17 points.
Minnie, Skovranko and Rowan combined to shoot just two free throws, as the Leopards went just 4 of 8 from the line.
Johnsonburg went 12 of 15 from the free-throw line.
"Let the kids decide the outcome," Javens said.
Cameron Grumley and Cole Peterson each scored 22 points for Johnsonburg, which had no starter taller than 6-1.
The junior Peterson also surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career in the first quarter. He scored 13 of his 22 points in Johnsonburg's second-half rally.
Johnsonburg will face District 12 champion Vaux in the PIAA Class A title game at 2 p.m. Friday at Giant Center in Hershey, Pa.
This will be the first year since 2010 that the Leopards will not be in the PIAA Class A championship game.
Lincoln Park lost to MCS Charter, 70-55, in the 2011 championship and Constitution, 68-49, a year ago in the title game.mobilehome - hsbasketball