Despite hot start, Deer Lakes isn’t satisfied heading into season’s 2nd half

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Thursday, February 4, 2021 | 8:05 PM


The Deer Lakes boys basketball team suffered a 42-point loss to defending WPIAL Class 3A champion North Catholic in a Section 1-4A game earlier this season. A loss like that might have broken most teams, but the Lancers rebounded in a big way.

They quietly have won their past four games and have averaged 56 points per game this season. Three of those four wins came by at least 15 points, and their first two wins this season came by at least 20 points.

With a young roster that only includes only one senior, Paul Zalus, who was the leading scorer against North Catholic, the Lancers have hit their stride. Coach Terence Parham likes what he has seen from his team, but they aren’t anywhere near where they want to be.

“We haven’t been as consistent as we would like, and I know our record is 6-1, but as a staff, we are always finding things that we can improve on,” Parham said. “This is probably the youngest team I’ve had in a while. There have been times when we’ve had two freshmen, a sophomore and two juniors on the court, so we’re just extremely young and it got exposed against North Catholic. But, to their credit, they didn’t scatter, and they’ve stayed together.”

Throughout the season, the Lancers have played well on both ends. Sophomore Bryce Robson and juniors Armend Karpuzi and Lucas Tiglio have carried the load offensively, and the Lancers have put together a team performance on defense.

They have allowed only 47.9 points per game, which is the third best in WPIAL Class 4A. Without the blowout loss to the No. 1 Trojans, the Lancers have allowed only 44 points per game.

Other than North Catholic, only two other teams have scored at least 50 points against the Lancers, and they won both of those games by more than 16 points. Although it has gotten away from them at times this season, the Lancers have taken pride in what they are able to do on the defensive end.

“That’s what Coach Parham and Coach (Albie) Fletcher have stressed is our defense,” Karpuzi said. “Since they’ve been here, we’ve wanted to be one of the best defenses in 4A or in our conference. Even right now, we’re one of the top defenses in 4A.”

The loss to North Catholic was an outlier for a reason. The Trojans held the Lancers to single digits in three of four quarters and below 10 points in the second half.

The Lancers played without Robson, and the Trojans took advantage by implementing a lot of pressure. Parham noticed his players weren’t doing the little things in order to combat North Catholic’s pressure, and they were turning the ball over too much. But they have started to improve in that aspect of their game.

“We are still nowhere near where we want to be, and we are still seeing too many deflections, not as much turnovers, but deflections,” Parham said. “So it’s always something we’re harping on and trying to get better at it.”

In the past four games, the Lancers have taken another step forward. Robson has scored in double digits in three of the four games. Tiglio scored a career-high 22 points against Hampton in a nine-point victory, and Robson, Tiglio and Karpuzi scored at least 17 points in an 18-point victory over section opponent Burrell on Tuesday.

Parham expected to lean on that trio the most this season, and through seven games, that has been the case.

“I think we’ve just been realizing the amount of work that we’ve put in, and we’re translating it to games,” Karpuzi said. “We’re having fun and just trying to keep the energy up.”

Although they have had success early, the Lancers still feel like they have a long way to go. But the work they have put in has paid off, and they are ready to keep building.

“We’re pleased with our progress,” Parham said. “But we’re not satisfied.”

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

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