Alle-Kiski Valley girls basketball notebook: Deer Lakes ready for Southmoreland

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021 | 4:59 PM


Deer Lakes last played a game Feb. 9 at North Hills.

Shortly thereafter, the Lancers went on a covid pause, halting practices and games until they were able to return to the court earlier this week.

Coach Dave Petruska said his players are excited to be back and have put in some good work to be ready for the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs and their first-round matchup against No. 3 Southmoreland.

“It’s a pretty quick turnaround, but we’re just looking to re-evaluate where we are and where we want to be,” Petruska said.

Deer Lakes, which went 6-4, including 4-1 in section play, before the hiatus, hosted Section 1 foe Highlands on Wednesday night and is scheduled to travel to section rival Freeport on Thursday.

The Lancers will play at Southmoreland (14-4) at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Petruska said he was a little surprised with the positioning as the No. 14 seed, but he is glad the team was able to make it back in time to be a part of the playoffs.

“We are going to prepare as best we can and be ready for a great opportunity against a really good team in Southmoreland,” Petruska said.

Back to business

Knoch also returned Monday from a two-week covid break, and coach Chris Andreassi said his team has taken advantage of being back together in the gym.

After three practice sessions, the Knights (7-1) will host Hampton, the No. 3 seed in the Class 5A tournament, Thursday to close the regular season.

The Talbots were 13-4 heading into their Section 2-5A finale Wednesday at Armstrong. Knoch originally was scheduled to face Slippery Rock on Thursday, but the Rockets were forced to cancel the game Tuesday evening.

“Hampton is very similar to teams we could end up facing in the playoffs,” Andreassi said. “They like to dribble-drive, they are a great shooting team, they play really good man-to-man defense, they press. They do all the things that, if we are going to win playoffs games, we have to be successful against.”

Knoch last played Feb. 6, a 51-41 loss to Class 3A power Laurel (15-2). The Knights, as the No. 4 seed in Class 4A, open the playoffs Tuesday evening with a home first-round game against No. 13 Hopewell.

Taking their shot

The Class 5A girls bracket is the biggest among the 12 boys and girls tournaments with 26 teams. When Kiski Area found out it was the 26th seed, coach Nick Dizon said he and his players didn’t react with misery.

Instead, the youthful Cavaliers (3-16) look at Monday’s game at No. 7 McKeesport (14-4) as a great opportunity.

“The energy is high, and I think we had been playing better to close out the regular season,” Dizon said.

“It didn’t show up in the wins column, but a lot of the things we’ve been trying to improve on throughout the season we are starting to do. We’ve had some close games against some good teams down the stretch, and we want to build on that momentum and see what happens Monday. It is good for the team in this crazy year.”

Focused on the present

Freeport garnered the No. 6 seed for the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs and will host Mt. Pleasant in the first round at 6 p.m. Tuesday

The potential is there for a quarterfinal clash against No. 3 Southmoreland. The Yellowjackets and Scotties met twice last year, including in the WPIAL quarterfinals, where Southmoreland dealt Freeport a close 54-52 defeat.

But Yellowjackets coach Fred Soilis said the coaches and players are not looking ahead to that possible matchup. The focus lies on Thursday’s Section 1-4A matchup with Deer Lakes and then with the Vikings (9-7), who have a playoff upset on their minds.

“When Dec. 12 hit and everyone was shut down for three weeks, we didn’t know where things were headed,” Soilis said. “Every day now is a new discovery and a new opportunity. We want to savor every chance to get on the court.”

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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