Deer Lakes boys boost section mark to 9-0 with win over Burrell
The 2019 polar vortex is about invade Western Pa. and bring with it some of the coldest temperatures and wind chills in years. Schools are closed, and cars will struggle start.
If folks around Deer Lakes School District are looking for a nearby warming center, all they need to do is huddle around their boys basketball team.
The Class 3A No. 5 Lancers were too hot to handle, and Brad Perrotte was on fire as the senior guard put up a game-high 20 points to lead Deer Lakes past Section-3 rival Burrell, 55-33, on Tuesday night at Deer Lakes.
“I thought the kids had two of their best practice days and were really locked in,” Deer Lakes coach Terence Parham said. “I haven’t been in the A-K Valley for very long, but I know now that you can throw the records out when teams like Burrell, Deer Lakes and Valley play.”
With three section games remaining, the win assured Deer Lakes (13-4, 9-0) at least a share of the Section 3-3A regular- season crown. The Lancers’ 9-0 section record also breaks a school mark set by the 1987 team that went 8-0 in section before suffering its first defeat.
Burrell (5-11, 4-6) will be scoreboard watching the rest of the way. The Bucs slip to fifth place in the section and almost certainly will need to win out and get some help.
“We just got to keep battling,” Burrell coach Shawn Bennis said. “We came in tied with Shady Side Academy, but they got us twice. I’m hoping we get a chance to keep grinding it out.”
The Lancers came out running on offense and pressing on defense and built a 6-0 lead in only 30 seconds. Burrell big man Andrew Bigler put the Bucs on the board with a layup, and Logan Phillips connected on a 3-pointer to cut into the Lancers’ lead at 6-5. But that was a close as Burrell would get the rest of the way. Phillips finished with eight points.
Colin Kadlick hit a 3-pointer from the left corner with 3 minutes, 30 seconds on the clock, and and Perrotte paced the Lancers with back-to-back baskets to give Deer Lakes a 15-8 lead to end the first quarter.
“We remember when we were at their place and they were up on us by 10 at halftime … so we wanted to send a message that wasn’t our best effort and we put it out there tonight,” Perrotte said.
While the Lancers were scoring, there weren’t very many second chances. Burrell dominated the boards at both ends. At the offensive end, the Bucs were cleaning the glass and had second- and third-chance shots, but nothing was falling.
“Our guys think we have to play faster to catch up, but we need to sort of chill, still get our good shots and make them play defense,” Bennis said. “We did that in the first half, and in the second half we obviously didn’t.”
Both defenses played tough in the second quarter. Phillips connected on another 3-pointer from the right corner, and Seth Fischbach added a basket to draw the score to 17-15 with 2:03 remaining in the first half. The Lancers’ Jack Hollibaugh doused Burrell’s fire with a 3-pointer, and Perrotte added a half-court shot at the buzzer to give the Lancers a 23-15 lead and all the momentum.
“I just like to be aggressive, and that opens my outside game,” Perrotte said.
The Lancers opened the second half with a 10-2 run before Burrell called time out. Bigler added a turn-around layup, and Fischbach added running jumper to cut into Deer Lakes’ lead at 35-22. Fischbach finished with a team-high 11 points.
“At points in the game, I thought we shared the basketball as well as we did all year,” Bennis said. “They’re undefeated in the section for a reason.”
With a short bench and senior forward Luke Kastelic in foul trouble, the Bucs had to tone down the physical play, and the Lancers took full advantage.
Hollibaugh and senior guard Jared Colton kept the Lancers’ fire lit in the fourth quarter. Colton scored six of his 13 points in the fourth quarter.
“We challenge players every day to get better and to do things that they don’t think that they can do,” Parham said. “We try to convince kids that are good enough, and close enough isn’t good enough and they can be in this position.”
William Whalen is a freelance writer.