Coach who built Deer Lakes boys basketball into perennial playoff team steps down

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Thursday, June 23, 2022 | 5:34 PM


Terence Parham called it one of the hardest decisions he’s ever had to make.

Citing changing work requirements, the veteran Deer Lakes boys basketball coach has resigned after seven years at the helm of the program.

The Deer Lakes School Board voted to accept his resignation at Tuesday’s meeting.

“My role with Amazon is expanding, and within that new role, there will be travel,” Parham said. “I can’t really say when that travel will come, but I know it will affect my schedule. It wouldn’t be conducive to coaching with the dedication necessary for the job.

“I also started a logistics company, so we’re going to be a little busy, and I had to walk away from the sport I love the most. I told (athletic director Chuck Bellisario) that I never wanted to cheat the program or cheat the kids due to my lack of time.”

Parham said covid also played a part in his decision to step away.

“Before covid, I was a full-time basketball trainer and was also coaching here,” he said. “It worked, and I was able to provide for my family. When covid hit, it was a total game-changer, and my Bucknell degree came in handy for my work at Amazon, and I still was able to provide for my family.”

Parham, 46, said he was able to meet with some of the players Tuesday, but he was not able to get to everybody. That is something, he said, he hopes to do before too much time passes.

“I owe it to all my players to have that direct conversation,” said Parham, who previously coached at Shady Side Academy and guided the team to eight consecutive WPIAL playoff appearances from 2004-2012.

Parham said he also was able to have a heart-to-heart conversation with close assistant Albie Fletcher at an open gym.

“I was fortunate to have assistants like Albie and coach (Jimmy Tedesco) when I started,” Parham said.

After a few years away from coaching, Parham came back to provide stability to a Lancers program that had gone through four coaches over the previous eight seasons.

“Deer Lakes has been so good to me and to my family,” said Parham, who won 86 games and guided his teams to the playoffs each of the last six seasons. “They gave me a second chance at something I never thought I was going to get back into. I was undefeated as a trainer. (Bellisario) was great at working his magic and getting me back out there. I don’t regret it one bit. It was such a great experience.”

Deer Lakes made its move up to Class 3A for the 2014-15 season and went 4-18 overall and 0-14 in section play. The Lancers, at the time of Parham’s arrival, had not won a playoff game since the 1985 WPIAL quarterfinals.

That losing began to change into winning as Parham’s influence on the program grew.

After a 6-16 mark in 2015-16, Deer Lakes went 12-11 overall and 6-6 in the section to qualify for the WPIAL playoffs.

“The players buying into the system was a big part of starting to turn things around,” Parham said. “When I took the job, a lot of people were like, ‘What are you doing? You can’t win there.’ As coaches, I’ve always asked the players to improve to the best of their abilities and give 100% effort so we can win games. I looked at it as, ‘Why can’t we win?’”

The Lancers compiled a 12-10 mark in 2017-18 and made it back to the postseason before making a big jump the next season.

Deer Lakes won 18 games in 2018-19, beat Charleroi in the WPIAL first round to snap the long playoff drought and qualified for the PIAA playoffs.

The Lancers topped Brookville and Forest Hills for the only state-tournament victories in school history. The run concluded with a loss to District 10 champion Sharon in the PIAA quarterfinals.

In what now has become Parham’s final home game with the Lancers, a 3-point shot from senior Justin Brannagan in the final seconds lifted Deer Lakes to a dramatic 39-37 victory over Blackhawk in the first round of the WPIAL Class 4A playoffs Feb. 18.

Deer Lakes fell to No. 1 Quaker Valley in the quarterfinals but earned a spot in the PIAA playoffs with the follow-the-leader format for determining state qualifiers.

The Lancers fell to District 6’s Penn Cambria, 66-63, in the first round to wrap up its season at 16-7.

“Looking back now, I couldn’t have written that any better,” Parham said. “A walk-off in my last home game? That was an unreal feeling.”

Parham said he’s excited to see the program move forward and hopefully continue to be successful.

“Now, I think we have put together a respectable program which can win year in and year out,” Parham said. “For whoever gets the job, they will have some good pieces to work with and hopefully be able to build off of the momentum.”

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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