Playing alongside a pair of superstars, Dontay Green and Mikey Crawford are two of Lincoln Park’s most important role players.
That role, however, is sometimes difficult to define.
“It’s kind of like a mixture of everything,” said Green, a senior who missed most of his junior season with a foot injury. “One game it can be step up and score. It can be step up and rebound. It can be watch the best defender. Or it can just be passing it to them and having them make plays. We just go based off the game.”
Sunday’s game called for the two to take on a bigger scoring role in the second half of a tight contest, and their ability to do just that propelled Lincoln Park to an outstanding win.
Green and Crawford scored 21 of their 22 points in the second half to help host Lincoln Park (2-0) pull away late for a 63-53 win against Moon (0-1) in an early season showdown of top WPIAL teams.
This game was billed as a matchup of star players. Defending WPIAL and PIAA Class 4A champion Lincoln Park, ranked No. 20 nationally by MaxPreps, boasts Pitt recruit Brandin Cummings and five-star junior Meleek Thomas, while Class 5A Moon counters with senior guards Elijah Guillory and Braylon Johnson, both of whom have Division I offers.
Moon was down one of its horses right from the get-go, as Johnson, a 6-foot-7 senior guard, missed the game due to an illness, according to coach Gino Palmosina. But the three other players all had big games. Guillory poured in a game-high 25 points, while Cummings and Thomas scored 19 apiece.
Lincoln Park led Moon, 28-25, at the half, but the Leopards were a two-man team scoring-wise in the opening 16 minutes, with Thomas (14 points) and Cummings (13) combining to score all but one of the team’s points. Green had the other on a free throw.
“We played really slow in the first half. That’s not us,” Lincoln Park coach Mike Bariski said. “In the second half we picked up the intensity. We ran the offense the way that we run the offense. Downhill, hitting gaps, shooting, and getting some of the other guys involved.”
A lengthy Moon team used a 6-0 run to take a 37-36 lead on Aiden Reesman’s two free throws with 2:12 left in the third quarter, but Lincoln Park countered with a 9-0 run to take control. Cummings ignited the run with a layup and Green followed with a transition bucket off a dish from Thomas. Newcomer Rhaki Lum added a three-point play and Crawford a basket to give the Leopards an eight-point lead. Guillory then hit a half-court shot at the buzzer to cut the Moon deficit to 45-40.
“It’s anybody’s game,” Crawford said. “We always play together as a team no matter what the score is. We took the energy up and stayed together. And when it’s time, do what you’ve got to do. We all have the capability to shine, so whoever it is we just have to step up and finish the game out.”
Crawford (seven points) and Green (six) then combined to score 13 of Lincoln Park’s 18 fourth-quarter points. After Crawford’s three-point play 20 seconds into the fourth, Moon never got within three the rest of the way while the Lincoln Park lead grew to as big as 12.
For the game, Crawford and Green scored 11 points apiece. The two seniors are actually multi-sport standouts who both plan on playing football in college. Lincoln Park doesn’t have a football team, so the two, along with Lincoln Park teammate Dorian McGhee, played that sport for Western Beaver the past few seasons. Crawford has several Power Five offers and said he plans on announcing his decision in the upcoming week.
Guillory, a 6-5 guard, was the only Moon player scoring in double-figures, but Reesman did chip in nine points. The Tigers played much of the game without 6-4 senior guard Michael Santicola, who injured his ankle and was on crutches afterward. His only points came on a 3-pointer in the first quarter.
While this was Moon’s season opener, it was Lincoln Park’s second game, the first being a 31-point rout of Philadelphia Catholic League power Devon Prep two nights earlier.
Bariski said that while he believes his team felt a little too confident in themselves after that first game, he was happy that they found a way to come out on top in their second.
Said Bariski, “Sometimes you believe your own hype and sometimes it’s hard to turn [things] on and off, but a win’s a win. So I’m OK with it.”