A-K Valley girls basketball notebook: Deer Lakes solidifies playoff spot

Wednesday, January 29, 2020 | 5:52 PM

Deer Lakes took a seven-point lead at halftime of Monday’s Section 3-3A matchup with Steel Valley, but a 20-1 third quarter in favor of the Lancers left no doubt in the 49-32 result.

“It was fun to watch and definitely something I was confident they were able to do,” Lancers coach Dave Petruska said. “The defense was just tenacious, and a lot of the time in the quarter, the girls did a great job of working together as one. Our success will continue to come from play like I saw (in the quarter).”

Monday’s win clinched a WPIAL playoff spot for the Lancers.

Petruska took note of the team effort in scoring, led by 12 from Makayla Blair, with nine from Nikki Fleming and eight apiece from Cameron Simurda and Reese Hasley.

Deer Lakes, 11-6 overall and 8-3 in the section, begins its final run to the postseason Thursday at East Allegheny (10-8, 7-5), followed by a home game Monday against Derry (11-7, 8-3) and the section finale Feb. 6 at Shady Side Academy (7-12, 4-7).

Regrouping for a final run

Plum controlled its own destiny for an outright Section 2-5A title heading into Tuesday’s game against Armstrong, but the River Hawks, behind 13 points from Jaylen Calipare and 12 more from Shaelyn Clark, threw up a roadblock to those plans with a 41-29 victory over the Mustangs.

“We just didn’t play well in any quarter of the game,” Plum coach Steve Elsier said. “Armstrong moved well in the half court, outfought us for loose balls and outrebounded us. It was the perfect storm in terms of our play.”

Despite the loss, its first after eight wins in a row, Plum, 7-2 in the section, still is in line to clinch the section as it hosts Hampton (4-5) on Thursday and visits Kiski Area (0-9) on Tuesday.

“We’re not thinking about anything but Hampton,” Elsier said. “The girls understand what they have to do to get to that next level and finish things out.”

Gateway, winner of four straight in the section after a 41-27 loss to Plum on Jan. 13, stands at 8-2 overall and hosts Kiski Area on Friday.

The Gators and Mustangs will have their rematch Feb. 6 at Plum.

Fit to be tied

Fox Chapel took a sizeable step toward wrapping up a playoff spot in Section 1-6A with Monday’s 44-32 home victory over Shaler.

Behind a game-high 17 points from Domenica Delaney, the Foxes bounced back from a 26-point loss to North Allegheny three days earlier. They also remained tied with Seneca Valley for third place in the section at 6-5.

Fox Chapel coach Marty Matvey said his players will have to be wary Thursday when they go on the road to face upset-minded North Hills (6-11, 2-9).

Seneca Valley (12-6, 6-5) takes on Shaler (8-10, 5-6) on Thursday as the Titans hope to stay in the playoff race.

The Foxes (11-6) and Raiders play Monday in a rematch of a key 50-46 Fox Chapel victory Jan. 10.

Still alive

Despite an 0-8 record in Section 3-1A, youthful Leechburg remains alive for a spot in the WPIAL playoffs.

The Blue Devils visit Propel Andrew Street, 2-6 in section play, Thursday and host St. Joseph, also 2-6 in the section, Monday.

They need to win both games and have St. Joseph lose to Greensburg Central Catholic on Friday and Propel lose to Aquinas Academy on Monday.

That would create a three-way tie for fourth place in the six-team section, and with each team going 2-2 against the other two, all three would qualify.

Leechburg lost by five to Propel in their first meeting and by seven to St. Joseph.

Greensburg Central Catholic owns the top spot in the section at 8-0, followed by Clairton at 7-1 and Aquinas at 5-3.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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