Deer Lakes coach Parham continues to instill principles

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Friday, March 15, 2019 | 11:14 PM


Terence Parham never played in the PIAA basketball playoffs during his standout career at Shady Side Academy, his lone chance getting sunk during his 1993-94 senior season when the Indians bowed out of the postseason after Farrell beat them on a buzzer-beater.

To make matters worse, Shady Side Academy won a state championship the next season.

A quarter-century later, Parham is getting his chance to experience the PIAA tournament, even if he can’t suit up the way he’d like to. In his fourth season as Deer Lakes boys basketball coach, Parham is leading the program to heights it never before reached. The Lancers are appearing in the PIAA quarterfinals for the first time after getting the first two state playoff wins in school history over the past week.

And for a little extra Hollywood sweetness, Parham and wife, Leslie, recently welcomed their fourth child and first daughter, Oaklyn.

“It really is like straight out of a movie — you can’t really script something like this,” said Parham, who will lead Deer Lakes against District 10 champion Sharon (23-4) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Slippery Rock University. “It’s been unreal. I really can’t even really put it into words. As a coach, you want your team to be as competitive as possible, knowing that in order to get to this spot, you really have to be playing not just good basketball but smart basketball.”

Those qualities show up significantly in Deer Lakes (18-7), one of the eight remaining teams in the state Class 3A bracket, largely thanks to Parham’s work since coming to the school.

Deer Lakes was coming off a 4-18 season when Parham took the job in June 2015, becoming the Lancers’ fifth coach in nine years. The team is 48-44 since then — including 42-28 the past three seasons — with three consecutive WPIAL playoff appearances.

This season Deer Lakes won its section outright for the first time since 1992, won a WPIAL playoff game for the first time since 1985 and earned the first two PIAA victories in school history.

“I think he’s definitely done a good job changing the culture around here because before, I think a lot of players felt entitled,” senior Jared Colton said. “He totally got rid of that. We play for him, for the team, for Deer Lakes. It’s a lot less selfish.”

Parham coached at Shady Side Academy from 2004-12, resigning after leading his alma mater to eight consecutive WPIAL playoff appearances. At the time he didn’t know if he would coach again. Then the Deer Lakes job came open, and he decided to throw his hat in the ring.

“For me as a coach, it was just a totally different challenge,” he said. “It’s one thing to go into a program that has perennial traditional playoff experience or is just always in the mix. It’s a whole other thing to see if you can really infuse your principles. We’ve changed systems pretty much all four years here, but if we can instill those principles and those guys buy into that, then whatever system we run, hopefully we can have some success with it.

“For me, it was really just that challenge of getting guys to get to a point that they never thought they could get to. It takes them trusting you, and it takes you being consistent with your message and delivery.”

A core Parham principle? Effort is crucial. He doesn’t expect perfection, per se, but he does expect perfect effort. He makes no bones about if he doesn’t see it, either: “He’ll tell you how it is,” junior Jack Hollibaugh said.

“His big thing is, ‘I’m fine with you making a mistake, just make it at 100 percent,’ ” senior Brad Perrotte said. “I think that honestly carries over with our team because we go as hard as we possibly can, and he doesn’t care (about mistakes) as long as we’re going as hard as we can.”

Parham did that himself in his days at Shady Side Academy. He played four sports (football, basketball, baseball and track and field) and was an all-conference football player at Bucknell.

“He makes sure he tells us that he would bust us if he was playing and he was in his prime,” Perrotte said.

Both a teacher and a student of basketball, Parham co-founded Triple Threat Training in 2011 for local athletes. He also spent the past two summers in China working with the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association and also the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association developmental program.

Colton said Parham puts in countless hours with film study and preparation.

“It goes unnoticed, honestly, unrecognized because it’s behind-the-scenes work,” Colton said. “But he puts it in, and he brings it to practice.”

With three young boys and a newborn baby girl, plus preparation for the PIAA quarterfinals, it might seem sleep is in short supply for Parham these days. But he said he’s getting plenty of help in both areas.

“My wife is the angel in the fact that she’s taken the baby full time,” Parham said. “Every now and then I’ll get her, but for the most part (Leslie) handles that and just says, ‘prepare for your next-round game.’ ”

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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