Third-quarter miscues prove costly for Laurel
Laurel (55) Vs. Lincoln Park (67)
By Andrew Koob
New Castle News
The Laurel High boys basketball team knew the run was coming.

Against a team as highly regarded as visiting Lincoln Park, it was inevitable that the Leopards would claw their way back into the game. For the Spartans, it was just a matter of slowing them down.

After the first 90 seconds of the second half, it was apparent Laurel wasn’t going to be able to do that as Lincoln Park walked away with a 67-55 WPIAL Section 1-AA victory Friday night.

Leading by three at the halftime break, Laurel (5-2 section, 12-3 overall) allowed 10 straight points as Lincoln Park’s defense forced the Spartans to commit costly turnovers and, in turn, allow easy transition layups.

“We just didn’t execute well,” Laurel coach Ken Locke said. “It’s something we talked about at halftime, we knew they were going to come out with that intensity. It’s what they do, it’s what good teams do. We just had some mental breakdowns, threw some bad passes. Against a team like this, you have to play for 32 minutes and we broke down for a couple minutes. That’s something you can’t do against a good team like this.”

Scott Siddall paced the Spartans with 20 points. He was the only Laurel player to score more than four points in the second half, accumulating half of his total in the final 16 minutes.

Nelly Cummings took over offensively for Lincoln Park with a game-high 25 points, including 18 in the second half. Nick Aloi followed with 16 points and Zay Craft posted 13.

The opening of the second half was a far cry from the Spartans’ performance to open the game. Laurel scored nine consecutive points to take a nine-point lead late in the first quarter and held off a 10-point Lincoln Park run midway through the second period to take a three-point buffer into the second half.

The Leopards (7-0, 12-2), who utilized a man-to-man defense for much of the first half due to foul trouble, switched to a trap defense and forced Laurel to turn the ball over on five straight possessions.

“We planned on doing that a little earlier, but the fouls didn’t allow that,” Lincoln Park coach Mike Bariski said. “I had to bide our time and play straight up man in the second quarter. In the third, we threw a bunch of stuff at them. We rotated perfectly, whenever they got into a trap and rotated to the weak side, the other defender came up and rotated perfectly.”

Added Locke, “We have good players that make good plays 95 percent of the time, maybe even higher than that. It’s just one of those things, good players make mistakes, everyone makes mistakes and unfortunately, it happened all at the same time.”

Despite the initial shock of the Leopards’ run and a 22-11 third-quarter advantage, Laurel continued to attempt to chip away at the deficit. The Spartans only trailed by five points late in the third quarter and six points midway through the fourth, but couldn’t chip away any more at the Lincoln Park lead.

“It’s what we expected, they went up 10 and we could have let it go 20. These guys are veterans, they keep fighting and they got it back down a little bit to give us an opportunity,” Locke said. “But, at the end of the day, we just didn’t execute well enough in the second half.

“The guys played hard and I’m proud of the effort, but we just have to execute a little bit better.”
Game Scoreboard
Laurel 18 14 11 12 0 55
Lincoln Park 12 17 22 16 0 67
Box Scores
Dermotti Welling 2 2-4 6
Nick Aloi 6 4-4 16
Zay Craft 5 4-4 13
Nelly Cummings 9 6-6 25
Tino Holmes 1 0-1 2
Evan Brown 1 0-0 3
Thomas Melonja 0 1-2 1
Dillon Murphy 0 0-0 0
Nick Antonucci 0 0-0 0
Kelcey Lowry 0 0-0 0
Totals: 24 17-20 67

Jordan Dantico 2 2-2 7
Tucker Skerbetz 1 0-0 2
Isici Layne 2 0-0 4
Scott Siddall 7 3-6 20
Jacob Wilson 5 5-5 16
Mason Mraz 3 0-0 6
Colton Brown 0 0-0 0
Coltin Esposito 0 0-0 0
Totals: 20 10-13 55

LINCOLN PARK 12 17 22 16 — 67
LAUREL 18 14 11 12 — 55

3-point goals — Lincoln Park 2 (Cummings 1, Brown 1), Laurel 5 (Siddall 3, Dantico 1, Wilson 1).
JV score: Lincoln Park 63, Laurel 55. High scorers: L — Coltin Esposito 14.
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