B-A puts up effort in defeat

NEW CASTLE — Saturday night as they hopped on a bus for a two-and-a-half hour ride home, the Bellwood-Antis Blue Devils did so with a sense of accomplishment.

Their season had just ended with a 73-55 loss to Lincoln Park in the first round of the PIAA Class 3A tournament. But they hardly sounded like 18-point losers.

And they certainly didn’t sound like the loss at New Castle High School’s gymnasium was going to diminish a fairly successful season all things considered.

“They were obviously the better team,” said Bellwood-Antis guard Mason Yingling, who scored a game-high 25 points in the final game of his high school career. “Everyone expected them to win because they are a great team.

“Our goal coming into this was to play our hearts out, to give them a scare and make them earn it. We just wanted to play hard and make them have respect for us.”

Bellwood-Antis (16-10), the No. 4 seed out of District 6, did just that.

“They came ready to play,” Lincoln Park coach Mike Bariski said. “They didn’t come all the way here to just lie down. They showed up.”

Early on against Lincoln Park (23-4), which last week repeated as WPIAL champs, Bellwood-Antis looked like it was going to give the Leopards all they could handle.

“They showed a lot of fight,” Leopards guard Isaiah Smith said.

The Blue Devils actually had the lead on a few occasions in the first quarter and only trailed 20-13 after the first eight minutes of play.

It was 44-26 at halftime and 56-38 at the end of the third quarter. At the end, the Leopards won by 18 for their fifth straight double-digit playoff win.

“I actually just told the kids I’m as proud of them as I’ve been all year, even after some of our better wins,” Blue Devils coach Kevin Conlon said. “Most people probably thought we’d get blasted by 30 or 40. But we hung with them the whole game. We may have not been within striking distance to win, but I always thought that we stayed competitive the whole game. I never thought we were out-classed.”

Lincoln Park, a performing arts charter school, was led by guard Keeno Holmes and Smith, who led the Leopards with 17 and 16 points, respectively. Forward Andrew Wilder and guard Casey Oliver added 13 and 11.

Beside the 25 points scored by Yingling, who scored 18 of those points on six 3-pointers, Bellwood-Antis also got 15 from senior forward Nathan Wolfe.

Still, Conlon was proud of his team’s effort Saturday and for the entire season for that matter.

Last year in his first season as coach, the Blue Devils went 17-6 but didn’t qualify for the state playoffs.

After losing close to 80 percent of its scoring from last year via graduation, Conlon said Bellwood-Antis was picked to finish fourth or fifth in the Inter-County Conference North Division.

But the Blue Devils won the division and made it into the state tournament.

“We kind of overachieved for what people thought we were going to do this year,” Conlon said. “We maximized probably as much as we were going to get out of this season.”

LINCOLN PARK (73): Holmes 5 6-7 17, Oliver 4 3-5 11, Smith 5 3-3 16, Wilder 4 4-5 13, Bryant 3 2-2 9, Reddix 2 0-0 4, Liggett 0 1-2 1, Bradford 0 2-4 2, Irvine 0 0-0 0, Knox 0 0-0 0, Ryan 0 0-0 0, Drexler 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 21-28 73.

BELLWOOD-ANTIS (55): Yingling 7 5-7 25, Z. Mallon 1 0-1 2, Wyland 1 1-2 4, Walker 1 4-4 6, Wolfe 6 3-4 15, S. Mallon 0 1-2 1, Luensmann 0 0-0 0, Miller 0 0-0 0, Moss 0 2-4 2, Pellegrino 0 0-0 0, Pellegrine 0 0-0 0, Gibbons 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 16-24 55.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Bellwood-Antis 13 13 12 17 — 55

Lincoln Park 20 24 12 17 — 73

3-point goals: Bellwood-Antis 7 (Yingling 6, Wyland 1); Lincoln Park 6 (Smith 3, Holmes 1, Wilder 1, Bryant 1).

Records: Bellwood-Antis (16-10); Lincoln Park (23-4).

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