When Lincoln Park took on Hampton in Monday’s PIAA Class 4A semifinals, Leopards’ star senior Brandin Cummings played like he didn’t want his high school career to end.

So, it didn’t.

Cummings’ outstanding performance, highlighted by a scintillating first half, now has the Leopards one win away from a state championship repeat.

Cummings scored 24 of his game-high 30 points in the first half to help Lincoln Park roll to a 74-53 win against Hampton in front of a large crowd at North Allegheny High School.

Lincoln Park (26-3) will try to add its name to the short list of WPIAL teams to win back-to-back PIAA titles when the Leopards face Archbishop Carroll (21-8) in the final at 8 p.m. Thursday at Giant Center in Hershey. Only eight teams have done it, the most recent being Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in 2021 and 2022. Meanwhile, Hampton (25-5) saw its season end one win shy of reaching the PIAA final for the first time in 40 years.

In what was a rematch of the WPIAL final won by Lincoln Park, 66-51, Hampton held a 16-14 lead with a minute left in the first quarter following two free throws from 6-foot-9 senior forward Liam Mignogna, who at that point had scored all but three of Hampton’s points. Cummings, though, drained a 3-pointer in the final seconds to put the Leopards in front, 17-16. That gave him 13 points of his own, and he went on to score another 11 during a second quarter that saw Lincoln Park outscore Hampton, 24-8, to take a commanding 41-24 halftime lead. Hampton made just two field goals in that second quarter.

“We knew this was a big game,” said Cummings, a Pitt recruit who averages 23 points per game. “I’ve been in this game before and I’ve lost [freshman season]. And even though I ended up winning one, that still sticks with me. So every time I get an opportunity to play in a game to go to Hershey, I’m always fired up. You saw the same thing last year. So I just had to make sure that I played with that same intensity and give my team the best chance to win.”

Cummings connected on five 3-pointers while also scoring on jump shots and drives to the basket. He scored only six points in the second half, but by that time Lincoln Park was soundly ahead. Cummings threw down an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Rhaki Lum late in the third quarter that had the Lincoln Park fans buzzing.

“The great thing was, the other guys were recognizing [how locked in Cummings was] and they were getting him the ball,” Lincoln Park coach Mike Bariski said. “He  didn’t want [his high school career] to end. He wants to have a legacy of being there more than once. Pitt should be ecstatic after seeing that.”

Backcourt mate Meleek Thomas added 18 points and Mikey Crawford 11 for Lincoln Park, which won its 19th consecutive game. Thomas had scored 21 and Cummings 16 in the WPIAL championship win against Hampton.

The Leopards also got a big boost from 6-5 senior forward Dontay Green, who returned to action after missing more than a month following foot surgery. Green checked into the game with 2:06 left in the opening quarter. He went on to score eight points, but it was his play inside against Mignogna that might have made the biggest impact.

“That kind of changed the game a little bit,” Bariski said. “We were going to switch every couple of minutes, but he was just playing that big guy so well. That stopped what they were trying to do. They were unable to get the ball inside effectively, and it was also our ball pressure.”

Liam Mignogna scored a team-high 23 points in Hampton’s 74-53 loss to Lincoln Park in a PIAA Class 4A semifinal Monday at North Allegheny. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Mignogna (23 points), who scored his 1,000th career point in the game, and Peter Kramer (22) combined to score all but eight of Hampton’s points. Kramer, a 6-5 senior guard and Lehigh recruit, scored 17 of his points in the second half. Fellow senior guard Alex Nyilas, who tallied 16 points in the WPIAL final and 17 in the PIAA quarterfinals, was held scoreless.

Mignogna said after the game that he will walk on at Pitt next season, meaning he and Cummings are future teammates.

“You see what he’s about,” Cummings said. “You saw what he did to us in the first half. He can hoop. I’m proud of him. He scored his 1,000th point tonight. Next year we can get to it. H2P.”

Class 5A semifinal

• In another WPIAL championship rematch, Franklin Regional (27-3) avenged its loss in the final by defeating Moon (26-4), 60-43, at Peters Township. The win moves Franklin Regional into the PIAA final for just the second time. The Panthers lost to Plymouth-Whitemarsh in the Class 4A title game in 1997. This time they will take on two-time defending champion Imhotep Charter (28-3) at 8 p.m. Friday. Cam Rowell (17 points) led a group of four players scoring in double figures for Franklin Regional, which has won 16 of its past 17 games. Cooper Rankin added 12 points and Colin Masten and Fin Hutchison 11 apiece. Moon held a 28-25 halftime lead before a 16-5 edge in the third quarter gave Franklin Regional a 41-33 advantage. Moon star and Youngstown State recruit Elijah Guillory scored a team-high 15 points, but was less than 100% due to a leg injury. Aiden Reesman added 10 points for Moon, which had won 15 games in a row. Moon defeated Franklin Regional, 53-48, in the WPIAL final.

Nate Brazil scored 48 points in Imani Christian’s 98-69 win against Bishop Carroll in Monday’s PIAA Class 1A semifinals. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Class 1A semifinal

Nate Brazil produced one of the biggest scoring performances in PIAA playoff history by going off for 48 points while leading defending champion Imani Christian (18-10) back into the final courtesy of a 98-69 win against District 6 champion Bishop Carroll (18-11) at Hempfield. Imani Christian will shoot for a championship repeat when it faces Berlin Brothersvalley (28-2) in the final at 2 p.m. Thursday. The Saints defeated Berlin Brothersvalley, 81-64, in last season’s final. Brazil, a senior guard who averages 18 points per game, scored 15 points in the first quarter (including the 1,000th of his career), six in the second, 15 in the third and 12 in the fourth. He made five 3-pointers and a free throw, with all of the other points coming on 2-point field goals. Imani Christian raced to a 29-7 first-quarter lead and held a 54-33 lead at the half. The Saints improved to 35-0 against Class 1A competition since the start of last season. RJ Sledge added 13 points for the Saints, who have won 12 of 13, the only loss coming to Lincoln Park. Jace Casses paced Bishop Carroll with 25 points. The Huskies fell to 0-5 all time in the semifinals.


Class 5A

Franklin Regional 60, Moon 43

Imhotep Charter 52, Archbishop Ryan 48

Class 4A

Archbishop Carroll 66, Scranton Prep 56

Lincoln Park 74, Hampton 53

Class 1A

Berlin Brothersvalley 77, Linville Hill Christian 65

Imani Christian 98, Bishop Carroll 69

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at beverett@unionprogress.com.

Brad Everett

Brad is a sports writer at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at beverett@unionprogress.com.