Considering the relative lack of experience on his team, Lincoln Park girls basketball coach Ryan Kacsur didn’t exactly expect to go into Neshannock’s home gym and defeat the defending WPIAL and PIAA champions.

Then again, he didn’t expect the Leopards to be 13-2 after 15 games, either, but that’s exactly where they stand after an impressive 62-55 non-section win Thursday night against the Lancers. The win comes only two days after a disappointing 58-46 loss to section rival Trinity, and Kacsur is thrilled with the way his team responded.

“They’re so young and so inexperienced, that I don’t even think they understood the magnitude of what they did today,” Kacsur said after what his players accomplished. “I know how big of a win it is. It’s not easy to win up there. It’s a different place.”

Mairan Haggerty scored a game-high 29 points while making five 3-pointers while Megan Pallerino chipped in 19, but it wasn’t enough for Neshannock (9-6, 4-1) to pull off a comeback win after falling behind by 15. Maddie Syka led the Leopards (13-2, 3-2) with 20 points to go with 14 from Aizlyn Thompson, who buried four 3-pointers.

“We got ourselves up to a big lead. I think we got up to about 15 at one point, and they had to battle back, and they were tired,” Kacsur said. “We knew [Haggerty] was good. We knew she was going to get hers, and she did. We just tried to minimize the other girls around her.

“Knowing what she brings to the table and how good Haggerty is — to go up there and still find a way to find a victory, kudos to them. They did a great job tonight.”

Lincoln Park’s J’La Kizart looks to pass the ball against Neshannock Thursday night at Neshannock High School. Lincoln Park won, 62-55. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Other girls games

• In a marquee matchup of two title contenders in Class 5A, defending WPIAL champion South Fayette proved it is still the team to beat with a 49-40 home win against McKeesport (12-3, 5-1). Maddie Webber led the Lions (14-2, 5-0) with 15 points to go with 10 from Erica Hall.

• Indiana (11-4, 7-0) remained unbeaten in section play thanks to a 23-point performance from 6-5 center Eve Fiala along with 14 from 6-4 forward Katie Kovalchick, helping the Little Indians cruise to a 50-31 home win against Penn Hills (5-9, 2-5).

Freedom (12-1, 7-0) is barreling toward a section title in Class 2A Section 1 after a lopsided 58-26 home victory against South Side Beaver (6-9, 2-5). Shaye Bailey finished with a game-high 30 points while Julz Mohrbacher notched a triple-double with 14 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists for the Bulldogs.

Three stars

*** — Melaina Dezort poured in a game-high 29 points to propel visiting Freeport to a 53-37 win against Valley.

** — Makhai Valentine maintained his torrid scoring pace with a 30-point game including seven 3-pointers for Steel Valley, but the Ironmen came up just short in a 64-57 loss at McKeesport.

* — Halena Hill scored a game-high 30 points while hitting eight 3-pointers for Oakland Catholic in a 78-50 triumph at Latrobe, extending the Eagles’ winning streak to 11 games in a row.

Hot from deep

Players with 3 or more 3-pointers: Halena Hill, Oakland Catholic, 8; Makhai Valentine, Steel Valley, 7; Mairan Haggerty, Neshannock, 5; Elsie Smith, Fox Chapel, 4; Aizlyn Thompson, Lincoln Park, 4; Bella Antonacci, Indiana, 3; Olivia Henderson, Freedom, 3.

Boys scores

Carlynton 52, Central Valley 41

Jefferson-Morgan 49, Brownsville 37

McKeesport 64, Steel Valley 57

Monessen 57, East Allegheny 41

Summit Academy 75, Apollo-Ridge 23

Girls scores

Albert Gallatin 67, Thomas Jefferson 43

Apollo-Ridge 52, Jeannette 21

Aquinas Academy 68, Avella 47

Avonworth 47, Burgettstown 34

Beaver Falls 46, Carlynton 33

Belle Vernon 52, West Mifflin 36

Beth-Center 51, Frazier 45

Brentwood 51, East Allegheny 24

Chartiers-Houston 66, California 19

Elizabeth Forward 79, Ringgold 36

Fox Chapel 41, North Hills 38

Freedom 58, South Side 26

Freeport 53, Valley 37

Greensburg Central Catholic 62, Ellis School 14

Greensburg Salem 50, Derry 18

Hampton 63, New Castle 50

Hopewell 45, West Allegheny 33

Indiana 50, Penn Hills 31

Knoch 63, Deer Lakes 18

Laurel Highlands 54, Uniontown 27

Lincoln Park 62, Neshannock 55

Montour 63, Central Valley 42

Moon 51, South Park 19

North Allegheny 59, Hempfield 44

North Catholic 49, Highlands 35

Oakland Catholic 78, Latrobe 50

Penn-Trafford 71, Connellsville 28

Quaker Valley 62, Keystone Oaks 51

Riverside 51, Ambridge 37

Seneca Valley 54, Bishop Canevin 46

Serra Catholic 57, Steel Valley 17

Seton LaSalle 68, Sewickley Academy 42

Shaler 33, Armstrong 31

Shenango 42, Rochester 36

South Fayette 49, McKeesport 40

St. Joseph 59, Eden Christian 49

Union 66, Ellwood City 25

Upper St. Clair 63, Baldwin 33

Washington 58, Bentworth 27

Winchester Thurston 59, Clairton 41

Woodland Hills 55, Franklin Regional 40

Yough 40, Southmoreland 29

Steve is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Steve Rotstein

Steve is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at