Leopards leap past Potters, 99-56

MIDLAND -The Potters were overmatched.

The Leopards raced out to a 13-0 lead and never looked back as the Lincoln Park boys’ basketball team avenged last year’s loss to East Liverpool with a 99-56 victory Saturday night at the Midland Gymnasium.

With the win, the Leopards improve to 15-5 on the season.

“I’m a big believer in that whether you or lose it all comes down to practice,” Lincoln Park head coach Mark Javens said. “We are getting better as the year is progressing. That’s what you want to see.

“Having a 13-0 lead gave us a nice cushion, and we were able to try some different things. It was a good for us. Anytime you can get a win it is good.”

The loss drops the Potters to 5-13.

“We were outmanned and outmatched,” East Liverpool head coach Nate Conley said. “The one thing we didn’t do was quit. Our kids continued to fight.

“The reason why we play games like this is because when we get into the sectional tournament scoring will be easier for the kids because they competed against a team like this.”

Five players scored in double digits to lead the way for the Leopards.

Maverick Roman recorded a game-high 27 to lead the way, Elijah Minnie netted 20 points and Antonio Kellem collected 15 points. Also, Ryan Skorvanko contributed 11 points, and John Tomasetti tallied 10 points.

Finally, Jaylyn Cotrill and Nate Leodding each chipped in with seven points, while Chance Tomasetti ended up with two points.

“They are the best team in the state of Pennsylvania,” Conley said. “Everyone of their starters are at least 6-5.”

Two players scored in double digits for the Potters. Hayden Cunningham netted a team-high 22 points, while Austin Emmerling collected a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

“Austin Emmerling played a good game,” Conley said. “If he can score 18 points and get 10 rebounds against a 7-footer, than he shouldn’t have any problems scoring the rest of the year. Hayden cunningham also played well. His shot was looking good.”

Also for East Liverpool, Aaron Long netted six points, Kade Reynolds delivered four points and Zack Adkins and Derek Thompson each ended up with two points.

“I talked to Nate before the game, and they are a little down this year,” Javens said. “Their kids battled. They didn’t quit. They played hard.”

Lincoln Park led 13-0 with 6:06 left to play in the first quarter forcing Conley to call his second timeout of the quarter. East Liverpool got on the scoreboard on a basket by Thompson with 5:26 showing on the clock.

The Potters attempted to battle their way back into the game. Cunningham’s second 3-pointer of the stanza made the score 21-10, but the Leopards ripped off a 10-0 spurt to take a 31-10 lead forcing another Potter timeout with 55.7 seconds left in the quarter.

The hosts led 33-13 at the end of the quarter.

It was more of the same in the second stanza as the Leopards outscored the Potters, 25-11, to build a 56-24 advantage at halftime.

“I know they lost a couple of good kids from last year’s team,” Javens said. “I can’t remember their names, but I think they both scored about 20 points per game. When you lose players of that caliber, you are going to struggle a little bit.

“They are rebuilding this year, but their kids never quit. That is all you can ask for. That is all I can ask for.”

The points continued to pile up in the third quarter. Lincoln Park outscored East Liverpool, 28-23, in the quarter to take an 86-47 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The hosts outscored the visitors, 13-9, in the final frame to account for the final margin of victory.

“I don’t want to go backward,” Conely said. “We have been playing pretty good basketball lately.”

Perhaps the only disappointing part of the night for the Leopard faithful was seeing Lincoln Park come up one point shy of reaching triple digits.

“We are pretty battle tested,” Javens said. “We have lost a couple of close games we had a chance to win. We lost to a couple 4A schools. These games will help us at the end of the year. In the playoffs, it is do or die.

“We lost a good game at East Liverpool last year. I think even with the loss that game helped us.”

The night started well for the Potters as East Liverpool won the JV game, 43-26.

Zack Adkins delivered a game-high 19 points to lead the way for the victors, while Blake Lipke collected 10 points for the Leopards.

Both teams are scheduled to play again Tuesday.

Lincoln Park is scheduled to play at Union Area before finishing the year Friday at home against Western Beaver.

“We won the other night to clinch a share of the sectional title,” Javens said. “We want to win our last two games so we can win the sectional title outright.”

East Liverpool is scheduled to play at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night against local-rival Beaver Local as part of a girls’ and boys’ doubleheader at the Beaver Dome.

“I don’t want to go backward,” Conley said. “D.J. had a great month. He is leading the team. He is handling the pressure. I thought he did an OK job handling their pressure tonight.

“We are going to win a lot of basketball games. We are going to make a good run in the sectionals.”