GREENSBURG - Bishop Carroll Catholic knew it would have to play a perfect game to beat District 7 champion Lincoln Park in the PIAA Class A boys basketball semifinals Tuesday night.
The Huskies came in with confidence after playing Lincoln Park tight last year and knocking off two District 7 teams in previous rounds, but in the end, it didn't even matter.
Pitt recruit Maverick Rowan scored 32 points and the Leopards outmatched Bishop Carroll, 70-28, at the Hempfield Area Senior High School gymnasium to advance into their third state championship game in the past four years.
"We ran into a buzz saw," Bishop Carroll coach Cosie Aliquo said. "They are a good team. They shot well, and their length just got to us."
The loss dropped Bishop Carroll to 28-1 and marked the second year in a row the Huskies' season has come to an end at the hands of Lincoln Park. A year ago, Carroll actually led by five in the fourth quarter before losing, 86-84.
According to Lincoln Park coach Mark Javens, the Huskies themselves were to blame for the Leopards' improved defense.
"We were up by 20 last year against [Bishop Carroll] in the quarterfinals, and they came back on us," Javens said. "Then we lost in the next round, and because of that we worked on our defense all year long.
"We understand we can score the ball offensively, but you win championships on defense."
The Huskies fell behind 15-0 and didn't score their first point until a Marcus Lee jumper with 20 seconds to play in the first quarter.
"We wanted to come out and play hard right away because of what happened last year," Rowan said. "We knocked them down, got a big lead and they never got back up."
Lee, a 6-foot-6 senior, didn't have a chance to impact the game much further. He picked up his fourth foul with 3:17 to play in just the second quarter. Lee returned to the game with 5:33 left in the third quarter, and Bishop Carroll went on its only run of the game - an 8-3 spurt - but he fouled out less than 2 minutes later. He finished with six points.
"When he's your biggest guy, and one of your better guys, and he's in foul trouble, it's going to hurt any team," Aliquo said regarding Lee.
Lincoln Park (28-1), which will play for the state championship Friday at 2 p.m., led 39-13 at halftime and 45-13 minutes into the third quarter.
Elijah Minnie, who scored 42 points in the Leopards' win over Carroll last year, scored just 10 points Tuesday but had 14 rebounds and four blocks.
Brandon Martinazzi led Bishop Carroll with 10 points.
"We didn't play our best game, and we weren't even close," Martinazzi said. "They are a good team, and you can't come in and play like we did against a team like them and not expect to get beat. They smacked us. What can you say?"
Unlike a year ago when Carroll advanced into the state quarterfinals without any championships, the Huskies won the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference title and the District 6 Class A crown.
"I'm not going to base this season on last year or this season on tonight," Aliquo said. "We were 28-0 coming in here, and we were pretty good. We just didn't play well today.
"I told these guys, they are special. This season will never be duplicated. Not by me, not by them. This was a great group on and off the court. We're disappointed right now, but when they wake up tomorrow and realize what they accomplished, they wouldn't trade it for anything."
Senior starters David Maruca, Mitchell Madonna and Lee each got loud ovations from the crowd as they exited the court for the final time as Huskies.
"It was a pretty special atmosphere here, and it was great to see how many people came out to the game," Martinazzi said. "It was great seeing all the fan support all season. It really brought the Bishop Carroll community together."
Martinazzi, a junior all-state guard, began to shed a few tears when asked about the team's graduating seniors.
"It's been a great ride, and we have some young guys in the system," Martinazzi said. "Bishop Carroll will be back, but those seniors are good guys. They are some of my best friends, and I'll never forget this year."
BISHOP CARROLL (28): Martinazzi 4 1-2 10, Madonna 0 0-1 0, Maruca 2 1-2 5, Lee 3 0-0 6, Lucas 0 0-0 0, Suckinos 2 0-0 5, Burk 1 0-0 2, Swatsworth 0 0-0 0, Woo 0 0-0 0, Watt 0 0-0 0, Weinzierl 0 0-0 0, Ratchford 0 0-0 0, Wyland 0 0-0 0. Totals - 12 2-5 28.
LINCOLN PARK (70): Rowan 10 9-10 32, Minnie 3 3-4 10, Skovranko 3 0-0 7, Kellem 3 0-0 7, Cummings 3 1-2 8, Pipkin 1 0-0 2, Welling 1 0-0 2, Craft 0 0-0 0, Lipke 0 0-0 0, McCune 0 0-0 0, Tomassetti 1 0-0 2. Totals - 25 13-16 70.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Bishop Carroll 2 11 11 4 - 28
Lincoln Park 15 24 15 16 - 70
3-pointers: Bishop Carroll 1 (Suckinos); Lincoln Park 7 (Rowan 3, Minnie, Skovranko, Kellem, Cummings)
Records: Bishop Carroll (28-1); Lincoln Park (29-1)
Officials: Kevin Doverspike, Mike Budbifano, David Wright