2024 WPIAL Class 3A boys basketball championship breakdown: Deer Lakes vs. Burrell

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Thursday, February 29, 2024 | 2:35 PM


WPIAL Class 3A boys basketball championship

No. 1 Deer Lakes vs. No. 11 Burrell

5 p.m. Friday at Petersen Events Center

On the air: Audio broadcast: TribLive HSSN; Video livestream: NFHS Network

WPIAL titles: Deer Lakes 1 (2023); Burrell 0

Deer Lakes (20-4)

Coach: Albie Fletcher

Probable starting lineup

No., Name, Ht., Yr., Pos.

3, Collin Rodgers, 5-9, so., G

12, Aiden Fletcher, 6-0, sr., G/F

20, Billy Schaeffer, 6-2, sr., G

22, Nathaniel Moore, 6-4, jr., F

24, Wayne Love, 6-3, sr., F

How they got here: Deer Lakes defeated No. 16 Sto-Rox, 62-32, in the first round; No. 9 Ellwood City, 39-38,in overtime in the quarterfinals; and No. 4 Neshannock, 84-73, in overtime in the semifinals.

Notable: Deer Lakes returned just one starter — senior guard Billy Schaeffer — from a team that ended OLSH’s 74-game winning streak, then beat the Chargers again to win the 2023 WPIAL championship and finished a PIAA runner-up. Seniors Wayne Love and Aiden Fletcher, as well as junior Nathaniel Moore and sophomore Collin Rodgers, have provided balanced scoring and contributions throughout the season and especially in the playoffs. Love had 23 points in the semifinals, along with freshman reserve Evan Moore. Schaeffer had 12 against Ellwood City. Rodgers led the way against Sto-Rox with 16 points, and Nathaniel Moore added 14. Schaeffer averaged 17.5 points during the regular season. The Lancers have won 13 of their past 15 games, with the losses coming in overtime against Highlands and a two-point defeat against Shady Side Academy in the regular-season finale.

Burrell (16-7)

Coach: Mike Fantuzzo

Probable starting lineup

No., Name, Ht., Yr., Pos.

2, Dylan McKalip, 5-9, sr., G/F

4, Tucker Bitar, 6-0, jr., G/F

10, Joey Discello, 6-3, sr., G

13, Esau King-Buchak, 6-4, sr., F/C

22, Macky Bennis, 6-1, sr., G

How they got here: Burrell defeated No. 6 Seton LaSalle, 55-50, in the first round; No. 3 Shady Side Academy, 48-44, in the quarterfinals; and No. 2 Mohawk, 51-34, in the semifinals.

Notable: Burrell has upset its way to the WPIAL championship game. After finishing third in Section 3 at 8-4, the Bucs upset the Nos. 6, 3 and 2 seeds. Now, the Bucs will make their third championship game appearance (1979, 2013) and try to upset the No. 1-seeded Lancers. Senior guard Macky Bennis leads the Bucs in scoring at 19.1 ppg. He had 20 points in the semifinals. Junior point guard Tucker Bitar added 11. All five starters returned from last season when Burrell finished 13-10 overall. Defensively, Burrell allows just 46.7 ppg, among the best in Class 3A. The Bucs have won five of their past six games, holding teams to 50 points or less in each win. Fantuzzo is in his fifth season as Burrell’s coach.

Bill Hartlep is the TribLive sports editor. A Pittsburgh native and Point Park graduate, he joined the Trib in 2004, covering high school sports. He held various editing roles before assuming his current position in 2019. He can be reached at bhartlep@triblive.com.

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