A-K Valley high school notebook: Deer Lakes boys basketball eager to continue run

Sunday, February 17, 2019 | 7:12 PM

Deer Lakes is no longer preoccupied with 1985.

The Lancers’ 57-47 victory over Charleroi in the WPIAL Class 3A boys basketball first round gave them their first postseason win since that year, ending a drought of more than three decades and 10 postseason appearances.

“It felt great to finally do something that this team has talked about since we have been young,” junior point guard Zac Herbinko said. “It felt great doing it for us and the community as well. It’s all that we have worked for since we have been young.”

Fourth-year coach Terence Parham, who was in grade school the last time Deer Lakes won a playoff game, first mentioned the drought on the night he was hired in 2015.

“It feels good to get the monkey off your back, you know?” Parham said Saturday night. “It’s a long time coming, and I’m just really happy for the kids to get that off of their back for their conscience.”

Deer Lakes had close calls in the postseason, including a six-point loss to Ambridge last spring, but Saturday the Lancers took control early and held off Charleroi’s comeback attempt in the second half.

But while one win represented a breakthrough, Parham doesn’t want to stop there. No. 6 Deer Lakes (16-6) will play No. 3 North Catholic (19-4) in the quarterfinals Thursday at a site and time to be determined.

“I told them to take it in but right back to work,” Parham said. “We’ll be checking those Hudl accounts to make sure these guys are right back on it.”

Highlands ticket sale

Highlands is holding a sale of tickets for Wednesday’s WPIAL Class 4A playoff game against Belle Vernon from 6-8 p.m. Monday in the hallway outside the Highlands High School athletic office.

Tickets cost $5 for students and $7 for adults. The game is 8 p.m. Wednesday at North Hills.

Baby on board

Maybe there’s something in the water when it comes to basketball coaches, babies and big games.

Parham and wife Leslie will welcome their fourth child Thursday, the same day the Lancers will play North Catholic.

“I couldn’t really ask for a better situation,” Parham said. “It’s a really exciting time for the program and our family.”

This birth will come just under two weeks after Leechburg boys basketball coach Corey Smith and fiancee Ashley welcomed a baby boy on the same night as the Blue Devils’ pivotal section finale against St. Joseph.

Like Smith, Parham will be there for his wife’s scheduled C-section and coach his team that night. Parham said he talked about the unique coincidence with Smith, a close friend.

“He said he had better timing,” Parham joked, because Smith’s baby was born during the regular season and not the playoffs.

Parham said he and Leslie are waiting until the baby is born to find out the gender, although “the track record would say boy.” The couple has three sons: Preston, 6; Kason, 3; and Roman, 2.

Stating their case

The Deer Lakes, Leechburg and St. Joseph boys basketball teams are sitting at the precipice of qualifying for the PIAA basketball tournaments after each one posted a first-round win.

All three teams can clinch an automatic state playoff berth with a win Thursday night. Deer Lakes plays North Catholic in the Class 3A quarterfinals, No. 9 Leechburg (13-9) will play No. 1 Vincentian (14-7) and No. 5 St. Joseph (14-8) will play No. 4 Monessen (14-8) in the Class A quarterfinals.

Teams that make the semifinals automatically qualify for the state tournament in those classifications, but all three teams will remain alive even if they lose Thursday because of the WPIAL’s follow-the-leader qualifying format for the PIAA playoffs.

Seven WPIAL Class 3A teams advance to the PIAA tournament, so Deer Lakes would qualify if North Catholic gets to the WPIAL final or if the Trojans lose to the eventual WPIAL champion in the quarterfinals. Six teams from Class A qualify for the postseason, so Leechburg would get in if Vincentian made the WPIAL finals. St. Joseph would get in if Monessen makes the finals.

Moore and Moore

Fans at Monday’s WPIAL Class 4A girls basketball first-round game between No. 11 Apollo-Ridge and No. 6 Southmoreland might get Moore than they bargained for.

The top players for each team have almost identical names, although different games: Apollo-Ridge senior Maddy Moore and Southmoreland senior Maggie Moore.

Maggie Moore, a 6-foot-2 forward/center and Navy recruit, averages 13.8 points and 11 rebounds for Southmoreland (17-5), which is making its first postseason appearance since 2008.

Maddy Moore is a 5-9 outside shooter, holding Apollo-Ridge’s career record for 3-pointers made with 100. The Seton Hill recruit is averaging 11.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists and shooting 41 percent from 3-point range.

Brown town

Freeport senior Jalen Brown made his college decision last week, committing to La Roche.

Brown is a three-year starter at point guard and two-year captain for No. 8 Freeport (11-9), which will play No. 9 Ringgold in the first round of the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Gateway.

Brown is averaging a team-high 15.8 points, with a season high of 29 in the team’s playoff-clinching win over Mt. Pleasant. He also is averaging nearly 5 assists and 2.5 steals.

La Roche plays in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference, and the Redhawks clinched a perfect regular-season conference record Saturday.

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Doug at 412-388-5830, dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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