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 PIAA championship, as they fell, 59-53, Tuesday night at Clarion University.
"We picked a bad time to not protect the basketball," Lincoln Park coach Mark Javens said. "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 it 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, finished with a game-high 25.
But Lincoln Park's other two top scorers, 6-5 Maverick Rowan and 6-6 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 free-throw line.
Johnsonburg went 12 of 15 from the 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.
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