Deer Lakes excited for a new opportunity in a new section

Thursday, November 26, 2020 | 5:17 PM

Deer Lakes girls basketball coach Dave Petruska is excited about what the 2020 season might hold for his Lancers, and rightfully so.

A year after going 13-10 (9-5 in section), Petruska’s team returns four of five starters and lost only one senior.

Reese Hasley, Nikki Fleming, Jenny Butler and Cameron Simurda return to the starting lineup, and Petruska also returns three other players who played significant minutes. With that talent and experience, the Lancers are ready to take another step forward.

“We were able to have several open gyms over these last couple of weeks, and we were able to get one practice in on Friday (Nov. 20),” Petruska said. “So we got the ball rolling with it, and we are very excited to see what we can do in the new section.”

After getting that practice, the school district decided to postpone the start of winter sports until Dec. 7. When the Lancers return to the court, they will have to practice 15 times before being able to play a game.

When they return to action, the Lancers also will face a new section with which they are already familiar. After placing third in Section 3-3A last season, the Lancers will bump up to 4A and play in Section 1 with Burrell, Derry, Freeport, Knoch, Highlands and Valley.

The Lancers played all five teams last season and went 4-4 against them. Petruska said having that type of familiarity with their opponents will give his girls a little extra confidence.

“Playing those teams, the last couple of years has given us a great indication of where we stand with them, especially knowing the familiarity of who they have on their team, who they still have and who they lost,” Petruska said. “Just seeing where they could be or where they are and where we are or where we could be.”

Last season, Deer Lakes relied heavily on defense. The Lancers allowed an average of 38.7 points, which was the fourth-lowest total in Class 3A. It allowed them to swing momentum in games and stop teams from building large leads. Petruska does not plan to change that mentality.

“Our defense is really our main source of energy when it comes to creating things,” Petruska said. “Our offense has definitely improved as the season went on last year, but our defense has been a very consistent part to our team and it seems to just be holding true”

Offensively, Hasley paced the Lancers by averaging 14 points and earning a spot on the Valley News Dispatch first-team. As a sophomore, she commanded the floor as the point guard and got stronger as the season progressed.

“Once she hit her stride, she really picked up in the scoring column in the second half of the year,” Petruska said. “But she does so much more than creating scoring opportunities for herself. She makes our offense go and creates things for pretty much everyone on the floor.”

With seven players returning from a team that missed a quarterfinal appearance by just four points, the Lancers could be even stronger this season. An influx of new players, including a six-player freshman class, adds depth, and the veteran players are eager to help the youngsters.

“It seems like all of the returning players have taken to showing them (the freshmen) high school basketball is much different from eighth-grade basketball,” Petruska said. “They all seem to be responding to the guidance from the older kids as well. They all just seem to be on the same mission and the same road to be as successful as they can be.”

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


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