Deer Lakes boys beat Shady Side Academy in final seconds

Tuesday, January 17, 2023 | 10:17 PM

Round 1 goes to Deer Lakes.

The Lancers defense forced a Shady Side Academy turnover at midcourt in a tie game with 4 seconds left, and senior Michael Butler finished it with a layup at the buzzer in a 53-51 Section 3-3A victory over the Bulldogs on Tuesday evening at Deer Lakes.

“That is something we work on in practice, and we really focus in on all the inbounds plays,” said Butler, who picked up the loose ball off a steal from fellow senior Bryce Robson.

“Bryce was right there in great position to make the tip, and I was in the right place at the right time. It fell into the back court, and I had to just focus and put it in.”

Butler finished with six points as all 10 Deer Lakes players who saw the court scored at least one. Robson led the Lancers with 12 points, senior Nate Litrun scored 10, junior Billy Schaeffer contributed nine and Wayne Love also had six off the bench.

“It was a terrific team effort,” Butler said. “We played 10 guys out there. Those 10 got a lot of minutes, and each contributed in different ways. That’s who we are.”

The performances from the Deer Lakes players counteracted the huge scoring effort from Shady Side junior guard Eli Teslovich, who finished with a game-best 30 points, eight above his season average.

The dramatic ending put Deer Lakes at 8-6 overall and pulled it into a tie with Shady Side Academy for first place in the section. The Lancers won for the third time in a row, and the Bulldogs saw their three-game winning streak snapped.

Shady Side Academy, No. 2 in the latest Triblive HSSN Class 3A rankings, fell to 9-4 overall and 5-1 in the section.

Burrell defeated Valley, 55-44, on Tuesday, and the Bucs also are 5-1 in the section.

Deer Lakes and Shady Side Academy will rematch Feb. 10 at Shady Side.

“We like to play that up-tempo style with aggressive defense,” Deer Lakes coach Albie Fletcher said. “That can wear on guys. We feel confident with the 10 we put on the court, especially in first halves with almost three-minute wholesale substitutions — five in, five out — to give the starters a break. I thought a big part of that game was when we made a five-for-five change with about two minutes to go. That second group gave us some good minutes while the starters rested before they went back in in the fourth. It paid big dividends at the end, for sure.”

Deer Lakes led by six at halftime and by two at the end of the third. The fourth quarter was a close back-and-forth in front of a spirited crowd rooting on both the Lancers and Bulldogs.

Robson hit a jumper with 2:07 left to extend the Lancers’ lead to 51-47.

A lay-in from Nate Malloy at the 1:13 mark cut the deficit in half.

Teslovich stole the subsequent Lancers inbounds pass and put it in to tie the score. He was fouled on the play but missed the free throw.

The score remained tied, and Shady Side Academy inbounded the ball under its basket with 7 seconds left.

But the final defensive play for Deer Lakes proved to be a winning moment.

“In games like these, it comes down to execution where both teams are going to make plays and make shots,” Shady Side Academy coach David Vadnais said.

“Tonight, Deer Lakes made the last play. We have the ball under our hoop with a chance to win it, and we just can’t turn it over. It just hurts that we had played so hard and fought back to give ourselves a chance to win it at the end. To have the possession for the last shot and not get it is frustrating.”

Shady Side Academy played without senior guard Ethan Salvia, who is battling a knee injury. Salvia is averaging 14 points this season. Vadnais said the team found out about the injury Monday and had one practice to adjust.

“Eli played really well and helped give us a chance,” Vadnais said. “Tonight was our first game without Ethan, and we knew we might struggle at times to score. We told Eli to just be him tonight and to be aggressive. We wanted him to let everyone else on the team know we would be OK because we still had him. That is exactly what he did. And I am really proud of the way this team showed up and played.”

Malloy, Nico Matt, and Seamus Riordan each scored six points for Shady Side.

Teslovich delivered for Shady Side from the opening tip.

He scored 10 of the Bulldogs’ 12 first-quarter points.

But Deer Lakes finished the quarter on top 15-12. Litrun had six points in the opening quarter to led the Lancers as six players scored at least one point.

Shady Side hoped to seize control early in the second quarter. Teslovich hit a jumper to open the frame and followed it with a 3-point play. Matt then hit a 3-pointer, and the Bulldogs led 20-15 with six minutes to go until halftime.

But the Lancers responded. Robson snapped Shady Side’s 8-0 run with a pair of free throws from a technical foul whistled on one of the Bulldogs’ assistant coaches.

It started a 15-4 run over the final 5:29 to give Deer Lakes a 30-24 lead at the break.

Robson had five points in the second quarter as all five Lancers starters converted at least one bucket.

“Tonight was big for us because we put ourselves back in the driver’s seat,” Fletcher said.

“We control our own destiny now. If we take care of business, it doesn’t matter what anyone else does. I told the guys that at this point in the year, that’s all you can ask for.”

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

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