Experienced Deer Lakes runs past Ellwood City in boys Class 3A first round

Monday, February 20, 2023 | 10:10 PM

Experience in a WPIAL playoff game can be the difference between a win or loss.

Deer Lakes showed that Monday in a Class 3A first-round game against a young Ellwood City team.

The senior-laden Lancers used a 15-0 run in the second quarter, sparked by their defense, and cruised to a 76-57 victory at home.

Deer Lakes advanced to the quarterfinals where it will play Mohawk, which defeated Derry, at a date, time and site to be determined.

Senior Bryce Robson opened the game with a 3-pointer, and senior Billy Schaeffer added two 3-pointers as Deer Lakes raced out to a 9-2 lead.

But Ellwood City righted the ship behind 6-foot-5 junior Joe Roth and caught the Lancers by the end of the quarter. Roth, who finished with a game-high 37 points and gave the Wolverines their only lead, 14-12, with a basket.

But things went downhill from there.

Deer Lakes picked up the pace and forced Ellwood City (15-8) to play faster than it wanted.

“We really had a good defensive effort,” Deer Lakes coach Albie Fletcher said. “We had five kids played scout for us for over a week, and they gave us a great look.

“Our players were really prepared, and we took them out of what they wanted to do. We had 10 guys play hard. The defense was lights out.”

Ellwood City played without its starting point guard, Jordan Keller, who was ill.

“We’ve been banged up all year,” Ellwood City coach Scott Dibble said. “With that said, Deer Lakes played hard and are well coached. They deserved to win. I wish them the best.

“We were scrambling without our point guard. It threw a wrench into what we wanted to do.”

Deer Lakes (14-8) pushed its lead to 30-19 by halftime and 44-27 after three quarters.

From there, it was making free throws and trading baskets with the Wolverines.

“Roth is a great player,” Fletcher said. “We knew he’d get his points. We just couldn’t let the other players hurt us. I felt we did a good job keeping him out of transition.”

Robson and Schaeffer scored 17 points each, and Nate Litrun added 16, 10 in the fourth quarter after Roth picked up his fourth foul.

“We ask everyone to do their part,” Fletcher said. “Bryce got us started with the 3-pointer. Mohawk runs a similar style to us. It should be a good matchup.”

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at pschofield@triblive.com or via Twitter .

Tags: ,

More Basketball

Penn Hills notebook: Drew Schifino plans basketball camp
Freeport grad takes over boys basketball program
Former OLSH basketball star Jake DiMichele commits to Duquesne
Penn Hills notebook: Daemar Kelly earns all-state honors
New St. Joseph coaches excited to take over basketball programs