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Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School

Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School
the Beat

Sloppy Leopards turn lights out on Shade

| Sports

Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 10:41 pm | Updated: 12:42 am, Wed Mar 14, 2012.

Sloppy Leopards turn lights out on Shade

By Mike Bires mbires@timesonline.com Timesonline.com

INDIANA, Pa. -- Before each game, the Lincoln Park Leopards basically hear the same pre-game pep talk from their coach. They're told to play hard, relentless basketball on both ends of the court for 32 minutes.

For the most part, they do just that. But on occasion -- perhaps in the midst of a blowout victory -- their minds tend to wander.

"Sometimes our heads get too big," sophomore forward Ryan Skovranko said.

On one hand, it's understandable. Lincoln Park (24-4) keeps racking up lopsided wins.

It was never seriously challenged in the WPIAL Class A playoffs. In the first-round of the PIAA tournament, it crushed Clarion Limestone, 93-54. Then on Tuesday night in the second round, it routed District 5 champion Shade, 69-42.

But at times during that 27-point romp at Memorial Fieldhouse at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, coach Mark Javens wasn't satisfied with the effort.

And for Javens, that's unacceptable.

He doesn't buy into the theory that teenage basketball players might lose their focus in the midst of blowout victories that have become almost routine.

"You know what, it's the state playoffs," Javens said, "You lose, you're out. It's one (loss) and you're done. That's why myself and our assistant coaches try to keep the kids focused as much as we can.

"Sometimes, kids might think 'We have this game in hand. Don't worry if we get a little sloppy.' But you never know when that kind of thinking will jump up and bite you."

Against Shade (22-5), never was the outcome in doubt despite a few sloppy stretches that irritated Javens and his staff.

Devonate Watson dominated as a 6-foot-10 major-college recruit should against a team whose biggest player was 6-6. Watson's line in the boxscore: 16 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots.

Senior shooting guard Trey Hosack added 17 points while Skovranko scored 13.

Each of those Lincoln Park stars had at least one dunk with Watson literally and figuratively rattling the backboard with a monster jam that ended the third quarter.

"It was very ugly. We played hard, but it was just too sloppy at times," Hosack said. "But like they say, a win's a win."

Friday in the quarterfinals, the Leopards know they can't afford to be as sloppy as they were against Shade. Now comes their toughest test of the playoffs. Next up is District 10 champion West Middlesex.

While Lincoln Park was cruising at IUP, the Big Reds (22-4) edged Johnsonburg, 50-45, at Clarion's Tippin Gymnasium.

West Middlesex opened the season with a 60-58 win in the New Castle tip-off tournament over Beaver Falls, the WPIAL Class AA champs. The Big Reds have not lost a game in this calendar year.

"We always have to play with the mindset that we have to play hard for every minute of the game like Coach Javens says every single time," Hosack said. "You can't underestimate any opponent. If you play sloppy, it can hurt you at times even against the worst of teams.

"Tonight, maybe we were thinking blowout rather than playing hard. When you think you're going to blow a team out, you start slacking off a little. And you can't do that. You have to go out with the mindset that you're going to bust teams every time by 40 or 50."