Deer Lakes boys clinch 4th straight trip to WPIAL playoffs with win over Valley

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Tuesday, February 4, 2020 | 10:46 PM


For the second time in school history, Deer Lakes is heading to the WPIAL basketball playoffs for a fourth straight year.

Thanks to an intense defensive effort in the second half Tuesday at Valley, the Lancers (11-8, 6-5) were able to hold off an inspired Vikings (3-17, 2-9) squad and take advantage of an 18-point third quarter and a 22-point fourth to cruise to a 64-46 Section 3-3A victory.

“Valley played us tough in the first half, and they were scrappy tonight,” Deer Lakes coach Terence Parham said. “I thought our defense stepped up there in the second half, and that allowed us to get a little more comfortable offensively.”

On a night when Valley honored basketball great Chipper Harris in a halftime ceremony, the Vikings played the Lancers close. Junior Adisun Jackson scored seven first-half points, and sophomore Ben Aftanas added five as they trailed by two after the first quarter and trailed by eight heading into the half.

But, as the two teams came out of the break, the Vikings took over for the first four minutes. Jackson hit a pair of and-one layups, and Aftanas made a pair of 3-pointers to pace the Vikings on a 12-4 run and tie the score 28-28.

“I think they (Valley) were inspired by Chipper and what they had going on here and Valley played accordingly to that,” Parham said. “So I think we just started to stick to our gameplan in the second half. We started to find (Aftanas) more and started limiting second-chance opportunities.”

After a quick timeout to ease their nerves, the Lancers started to click on both ends of the court. Bryce Robson had a 10-point third quarter after he and senior guard Zac Herbinko teamed up to convert several turnovers into fast-break layups.

The Lancers went on a 7-0 run and led 35-28 at the 2-minute, 31-second mark of the third quarter.

“We just picked up our effort,” Herbinko said about the switch of momentum. “That’s one thing we always have is our effort, and they (our coaches) were just like, ‘You guys have to give your full-out effort, and everything will turn around.’ So that’s what we did.”

The Lancers switched to a 1-3-1 zone in the fourth quarter and created even more havoc. Herbinko scored 10 second-half points — all coming from fast-break turnovers — as Deer Lakes clinched the victory.

“From watching film, we saw they were weak against the 1-3-1, and I was pressuring them pretty hard,” Herbinko said. “So I knew I just needed to keep my hands moving and create turnovers.”

Parham has been at Deer Lakes for five years and has led the Lancers to the playoffs the last four. Just last year, the Lancers went on a historic run in the PIAA playoffs. Now, the Lancers are back in the playoffs and starting to hit their stride as the postseason approaches.

“I thought this was very similar to a first-round playoff atmosphere,” Parham said. “So it definitely gives us confidence anytime you can win on the road, and Shady Side is coming to our place hungry. I think this really helps us going into the playoffs.”

Deer Lakes will finish its regular season with games against Shady Side Academy and Freeport. Valley finishes its season with a matchup against Burrell.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at gmacafee@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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