Deer Lakes girls log 1st section win by dropping Burrell

Friday, January 5, 2018 | 12:21 AM

Deer Lakes began to show signs of progress over the holiday break, but the Section 1-4A standings provided no evidence: The team remained stuck in last place after dropping its first two games.

The Lancers finally can provide proof they're moving on up.

A strong defensive effort and enough second-half offense helped the Deer Lakes girls basketball team pull away Thursday night for a 47-36 victory over Burrell, giving the Lancers their fourth win in five games and first section triumph.

“In the grand scheme of things, when it comes time to extending our season, having a successful season, (our first three wins) don't mean much at the end of the year,” Deer Lakes coach Dave Petruska said. “But I made sure they knew getting our first section win is huge. Being 0-2 going into Christmas in section was not a position I wanted to be in at all, but I think that we responded well and were able to keep moving forward.”

Deer Lakes (4-5, 1-2) built momentum by claiming the championship at the St. Joseph tournament last week, posting comfortable wins over Riverview and St. Joseph.

Thursday's game started as an offensive struggle for both teams during a sluggish first half. Deer Lakes didn't make a field goal in the first quarter and turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, and Burrell had 22 turnovers at the break and 33 in the game.

“I think we really picked it up in the second half,” said Abby Buechel, who scored a team-high 11 points. “It was really nice to see more points get up on the board. We were getting the looks in the first half, but it was good to see us actually start making something out of them in the second.”

Reserve Emily Mischen provided what Petruska called “the spark we needed,” converting Deer Lakes' first basket a minute into the second quarter. Mischen scored eight points in the quarter as the Lancers turned a 9-4 first-quarter deficit into a 16-15 halftime lead, and she finished with 10.

Burrell's offensive struggles came with turnovers against Deer Lakes' pressure defense, which the Lancers often extended to the full court.

“Definitely way too many turnovers, and that's something we're trying to cut down and work on,” Burrell coach Meaghan Volek said. “There's times when we break the press perfectly, and then there's times when we have a turnover. We need to limit the turnovers to be successful.”

A 9-0 run in the third quarter gave Deer Lakes some breathing room, with Anna Solomon scoring all nine of her points in the period. But Burrell (3-6, 1-3) kept it close with contributions from leading scorers Brittany Dunn (13 points) and Kaylen Sharrow (11).

Sharrow's 3-pointer cut the Deer Lakes lead to 34-29 heading to the fourth, but the Bucs got no closer than three points in the final quarter.

“I'm pleasantly surprised with how we responded in the second half,” Petruska said. “Going into halftime only up by one, having caused so many turnovers but committing just as many turnovers if not more, I had to keep my team focused on the positives and not dwelling on the negatives. … They responded much better in the second half, and I'm really proud of how they played.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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