From winning two WPIAL titles and a PIAA title to scoring more than 2,000 points, Brandin Cummings has accomplished a lot during his high school career.

But before he heads off to Pitt, Lincoln Park’s star senior guard would love nothing more than to help the Leopards make some history when he plays his final high school game. Only eight WPIAL teams have won back-to-back PIAA titles, a list that both Class 4A Lincoln Park and Class 1A Imani Christian can add their names to Thursday.

“It would mean the world,” Cummings said. “We want to go and make history, and that’s all that’s on our minds. We don’t have any intentions of losing. We expect to come back to Western Pennsylvania with a championship.”

WPIAL champion Lincoln Park (27-3) will shoot for a PIAA championship repeat and a fourth title overall when the Leopards take on Archbishop Carroll (21-8) of the Philadelphia Catholic League in the Class 4A final at 8 p.m. Thursday at Giant Center in Hershey. Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (2021-22) was the last WPIAL team to pull a PIAA repeat, but before then it had not been accomplished since Blackhawk in 1995-96.

Ever since Meleek Thomas’ runner in the closing seconds of last year’s final allowed Lincoln Park to defeat Neumann-Goretti, the Leopards have been thinking repeat. The Leopards came into the season with lots of hype and a national ranking, and despite the three losses, have been very good throughout. They will take a 19-game win streak into this one as they try to win the state’s top prize just as they did in 2014, 2019 and 2023.

“It would solidify who we are as a program,” Lincoln Park coach Mike Bariski said of a repeat title. “I think we’re solidified already, but I think that really puts us a step above.”

Meleek Thomas averages 23 points per game and pairs with Brandin Cummings to give Lincoln Park one of the top guard tandems in the country. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Cummings and Thomas give Lincoln Park one of the top guard tandems in the country. Thomas is considered one of the nation’s top juniors. Both average around 23 points a game as the Leopards average a WPIAL-best 78.9 points. Cummings was outstanding in the semifinals, scoring 24 of his 30 points in the first half of a 74-53 win against Hampton. The Leopards welcomed back Dontay Green, a 6-foot-5 senior forward who had missed more than a month following foot surgery. Green, Cummings, Thomas and senior forward Dorian McGee all started in last year’s PIAA final.

It appeared as if Lincoln Park and Neumann-Goretti were destined for a championship rematch, but the nine-time PIAA champion Saints were upset by Scranton Prep, 76-75, in the quarterfinals. Scranton Prep was then defeated by Archbishop Carroll, 66-56, in the semifinals.

Archbishop Carroll is appearing in the final for the fourth time. It won its lone title when it beat Greensburg Salem for the Class 3A crown in 2009. The Patriots have not lost since losing to Neumann-Goretti, 89-83, in the Philadelphia Catholic League quarterfinals. Luca Foster, a 6-5 sophomore guard-forward, led Archbishop Carroll with 30 points in that game. Foster, who has offers from Penn State, Temple and Saint Joseph’s, leads the Patriots in scoring with 14.1 points per game and is also their leading rebounder with 7.7 a game. This is a young team with a roster consisting only of sophomores and freshmen. One of those freshmen, 6-5 guard-forward Munir Greig, pumped in 20 points in the semifinals.

Class 5A

After advancing to the final for the first time since 1997 and for just the second time ever, WPIAL runner-up Franklin Regional (27-3) now faces the daunting task of doing something no team has done — beat Imhotep Charter (28-3) in a PIAA championship game. The teams will meet at 8 p.m. Friday at Giant Center.

Imhotep Charter, a power from the Philadelphia Public League, is the two-time defending champion, has won titles five of the past eight seasons, and is 9-0 all time in championship games since winning its first title in 2009. The Panthers have beaten WPIAL teams in four of those games, defeating North Catholic in 2009, Greensburg Central Catholic in 2011, Beaver Falls in 2012 and New Castle in 2022.

“They’re the best team we’ve played all year,” Franklin Regional coach Jesse Reed said. “They’re going to have size, athletes. Their starting point guard alone is going to UConn. We’ll be playing against some high-level players. But the great part is, they have all the pressure and all the expectations. Everyone sees this public school from Western Pa. coming over and they don’t expect much from us. That’s not a bad spot to be in.”

Fin Hutchison is one of four senior starters hoping to bring Franklin Regional its first PIAA title when the Panthers take on Imhotep Charter in Friday’s Class 5A final. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

This Imhotep Charter team is ranked No. 21 in the country by USA Today and is riding a 15-game winning streak. The Panthers are led by 6-2 senior Ahmad Nowell, the aforementioned UConn recruit who is considered among the top 40 players in the nation. Nowell is a big, physical point guard who averages a team-high 22 points a game. Another of the team’s top players is Ma’Kye Taylor, a 6-7 senior forward and Albany recruit. Nowell scored a game-high 20 points in a 52-48 semifinal win against Georgetown recruit Thomas Sorber and Archbishop Ryan. The win was the 500th for Imhotep Charter coach Andre Noble.

“It’s going to take a monumental effort to slow [Nowell] down and limit him as much as we can,” Reed said. “They’ve got size on the wing and big dudes down low, 6-8, 6-9. They’ve got good size, so it definitely will be a battle on the boards and a battle getting to the rim. But my guys are hungry to do something that’s never been done in school history.”

Franklin Regional lost in its only other finals appearance, falling to Plymouth-Whitemarsh, 50-45, in the Class 4A final in 1997. And while the odds may not be in favor of the Panthers getting their first title 27 years later, they certainly won’t be backing down from the challenge. Winners of 16 of its past 17 games, Franklin Regional avenged its only loss in that time when it topped WPIAL champion Moon, 60-43, in the semifinals. Cam Rowell, a 6-5 senior guard-forward, scored a team-best 17 points. Rowell is one of the team’s four senior starters.

This is a full-circle moment for Reed, Franklin Regional’s third-year coach who competed in the PIAA final as a player at Greensburg Central Catholic in 2011. The Centurions lost in the Class 2A final that season. Their opponent? None other than Imhotep Charter, which ran to a 67-34 win.

“It’s surreal,” Reed said. “It’s almost more satisfying as a coach just seeing their joy and excitement. Seeing it from the other side, it’s awesome.”

Class 2A

Aliquippa made history Tuesday by becoming the first WPIAL team to reach three consecutive PIAA finals since Sto-Rox did it from 2002-04.

The Quips now hope to avoid making some not-so-great history. No team from the WPIAL has lost in the PIAA final three consecutive seasons, a fate the WPIAL champion Quips (25-5) will try to stay away from when they face District 2 champion Holy Cross (24-3) at 2 p.m. Friday at Giant Center.

“They seem to be pretty hungry, but I guess we’ll find out,” said Aliquippa coach Nick Lackovich, who guided the Quips to their last title in 2016.

Coach Nick Lackovich guided Aliquippa to its most recent PIAA title in 2016 and hopes to lead the Quips to a sixth title overall. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Senior Cameron Lindsey scored 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 65-53 semifinal win against Fort Cherry. Aliquippa has now made it to three consecutive PIAA finals in both basketball and football. Lindsey, a senior forward and Pitt football recruit, is one of Aliquippa’s key players, as is sophomore guard Josh Pratt, the team’s leading scorer at 19 points per game.

But Aliquippa’s calling card is its man-to-man defense. The Quips give up only 42.7 points per game, fewest of the 133 teams in the WPIAL, and have surrendered more than 50 points only twice in winning 21 of their past 22 games.

“We’re playing defense at a pretty high level, which is always a good thing,” Lackovich said. “We’re also making shots at a higher rate than we did earlier in the season.”

Standing in the way of Aliquippa winning a sixth title is Holy Cross, which has reached the final just one other time, falling to Beaver Falls in 2013. Holy Cross knocked off Philadelphia power Constitution, 78-66, in the semifinals. The Crusaders are led by junior point guard Mike Hughes and junior guard Matt Lyons. Hughes scored 22 and Lyons 21 in the semifinal triumph.

“They’re typical of an Eastern Pa. team,” Lackovich said. “Very disciplined, they shoot the ball well, they make all their free throws, and they do all the right things.”

Class 1A
Just hours before Lincoln Park takes aim at a PIAA repeat, Imani Christian will do the same. And it will come against the team the Saints beat to win last year’s title.

Imani Christian (18-10), which repeated as WPIAL champ a few weeks ago, will square off against District 5 champion Berlin Brothersvalley (28-2) at 2 p.m. Thursday at Giant Center. The Saints defeated Berlin Brothersvalley, 81-64, to win their first PIAA title a season ago.

“That would be historic for this program and for the school,” Imani Christian coach Khayree Wilson said. “To be mentioned as one of the great teams … that’s what we’re hoping for.”

Wilson is an Imani Christian graduate who was an assistant last season. The Saints had some other turnover following last season, too, with a pair of all-state performers transferring to out-of-state schools, but the Saints have simply adjusted as they continue to roll. They improved to 35-0 against Class 1A opponents since the start of last season following a 98-69 rout of Bishop Carroll in the semifinals.

Junior R.J. Sledge and his Imani Christian teammates will try to defeat Berlin Brothersvalley in the PIAA Class 1A final for the second year in a row. (Emily Matthews/Pittsburgh Union Progress)

Imani Christian doesn’t have the size that it had last season, so the Saints have relied on a deep group of talented guards to use their athleticism and speed to outlast foes. Senior Nate Brazil has had a breakout season. Brazil, who has an offer from Fordham and is receiving interest from a few other Division I schools, averages a team-high 19.8 points per game and poured in a career-high 48 points in the semifinals.

“He is super locked in,” Wilson said. “He’s hit another gear. He’s put in the hard work and wants to show people that he can play at the next level.”

Berlin Brothersvalley is appearing in the final for the third time in four years and is hunting its first title. The Mountaineers are coached by Brentwood graduate Tanner Prosser and have a pair of high-scoring guards in seniors Pace Prosser (25.9 ppg), son of the coach, and Craig Jarvis (21.5 ppg). Pace Prosser finished with 23 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists against Imani Christian last season. The Mountaineers are an excellent perimeter shooting team and have connected on 319 3-pointers this season. Prosser and Jarvis have each made 102.

“They can really shoot the ball,” Wilson said. “We’re going to have to be aggressive. We’ve got to make their ball handlers handle the ball and create a lot of pressure.”

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

Brad Everett

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