Senior Brandin Beebah Cummings led Lincoln Park to its second state title, and fourth overall.
Senior Brandin “Beebah” Cummings led Lincoln Park to its second state title, and fourth overall.
Dillon Murphy



(HERSHEY, PA) You can win a basketball game in a close, gritted-out matchup, or you can completely dominate at all levels.

Coach Mike Bariski’s Lincoln Park Leopards did the latter Thursday night. They completely owned the hardwood against Philadelphia’s Archbishop Carroll Patriots in an 80-50 victory, and took home Lincoln Park’s fourth state title. 

The last time the Leopards saw the Giant Center in Hershey, they were faced with a Pennsylvania powerhouse: Neumann-Goretti. That was just last year, when Lincoln Park bested the Saints 62-58 and brought home their third state championship.

Senior health science major Brandin “Beebah” Cummings, who led Lincoln Park with 37 points Thursday, said, “This championship of course means so much to us, as did last year’s, but I feel like we had so many tough things we had to get through this year. So although the game may not have been as tough, the journey to get there was tougher.”

Cummings added, “We knew all week that if we went and played our perfect game, we could win by 25-plus points. Obviously you can’t practice shooting 30 (of) 45 in a game”–a scorching shooting percentage of 67 percent, which the Leopards accomplished Thursday–“but we went out there and did it, so it was a bit of a surprise. But we knew we could do it.” 

Archbishop Carroll wasn’t “aware of how fast, athletic and quick we were,” said Mr. Bariski, who is also Lincoln Park’s athletic director. “They tried to play our game, thinking that we weren’t as fast as them.

“They found out very quickly that we were just as fast, even faster than they were. It played right into our hands when that happened. And we just took off.”

Cummings put on a show during his last hurrah, only missing four total shots the entire game. He drained a step-back buzzer-beater three-point shot before halftime extending the Leopard’s lead to 29. Then, during the fourth quarter, created two near-the-logo three-pointers that put the crowd on their feet as time wound down. 

“If you were reading a story and there’s supposed to be a good ending, I feel like the game that I just had would be that ending,” Cummings said during a post-game interview.

Junior Meleek Thomas, ESPN’s fifth-ranked high school player in the class of 2025, chipped in 16 points and 14 rebounds. Senior Mikey Crawford also scored 15 points for the Leopards.

Leyhm Kidd, a senior music major from Beaver Falls, compared this state title to last year’s.

“I think it’s still the best feeling, especially since we have been working all year to get to this goal,” Kidd said. “But even better is that we are back-to-back PIAA state champions and WPIAL champions. The feeling that we accomplished that together is amazing.”

Sophomore Justin Eggleston said, “This championship compared to last year was a lot different, we went through a lot of this year compared to last year.

“I was surprised by the margin of victory, honestly,” Eggleston added. “I thought it’d be a little closer but I knew we’d win, just not by the amount we did.”

However, freshman Jaivin Peel was not shocked at all by the blowout victory.

“We prepared so hard for the game,” Peel said, “that I was not surprised at all.”

Mr. Bariski noted that the Patriots were a young team, primarily made up of freshmen and sophomores, while Lincoln Park was “senior-laden. Our experience just took over.”

Others on the Giant Center sidelines Thursday thought back to last year’s championship.

Cheerleader and senior pre-law major Veronica Van Dam of Enon Valley noted that, “This year, they had an easier win because of the point difference. The game was less intense.”

But Ava Bell, a senior dance major and cheerleader from Mt. Lebanon, contended, “This year’s championship was definitely more challenging compared to last year, because getting a back-to-back state championship is not an easy thing to do.”

With back-to-back state titles in the bag, is it too early to start talking about a three-peat?

It is but it isn’t,” Mr. Bariski answered. “Meleek and Rhaki [Lum] are back. At Lincoln Park every student that comes in, is a transfer from somewhere else. And we breed success because kids from everywhere see what we do and where we go and who we play and the places we play at. So I am fairly confident that there will be kids that look and see that Lincoln Park is the right place for us and our family. 

“Y’know, this has happened before for us,” Mr. Bariski added. “We lost some significant players back in 2014 (when Lincoln Park won its first state title); we lost some significant students in ‘19 and even ‘23. So I’m confident that families will choose to make a great move and bring their kids to Lincoln Park. 

“Just like they do with any other major or any other performance,” Mr. Bariski said. “Because frankly, we are performers–but on a different kind of stage.” 

But this morning, after spending his final night as a Leopard, Cummings was focused solely on the present. His older brother, Nelly, was a Leopards star, and Brandin will follow him to Pitt next year. And Thursday’s win was extra special for Cummings, a Midland native.

“It means so much. I feel like I made my town proud,” Cummings said. “Younger me would be so proud of me. I’m so happy I went out this way.”

SIREN reporters Camilla Adams, Tyson Florence, Lily Fortier, Riley Golden, Ruby Grossi, Taylor Hill, Anya Martin, Demarion Martin, Taylyn McCray, Felicity Portoulas, Rachel Sledzianowski, Ivy Smith, and Ollie Warren contributed to this story.

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