New coach Albie Fletcher plans ‘business as usual’ for Deer Lakes boys basketball program

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Thursday, September 8, 2022 | 8:06 PM


Albie Fletcher joined the Deer Lakes varsity coaching staff under Terance Parham for the 2018-19 season.

As a varsity assistant and the head JV coach, the Deer Lakes grad got to experience one of the most successful seasons in program history as the Lancers went 18-8 and advanced to the WPIAL and PIAA Class 3A quarterfinals.

Fletcher remained engrained in the program since that season, and in June, when Parham stepped down because of work changes after seven seasons as coach, Fletcher didn’t hesitate to put his name in the hat to be the next head coach of the Lancers.

He stayed involved with the team through summer open gym workouts, and, last month, his name was called to officially take over the program.

“I sure will miss coaching with (Parham), that’s for sure,” Fletcher said. “Coach gave me an opportunity to help him out on the varsity level, and he showed a great deal of confidence in me. Within a couple of months, he would give me the white board at the end of games if it made sense to do so. By the time we got done coaching together, he really allowed me to run our defense and all of our pressure stuff.

“I always felt like we were a great tandem together. He gave me so many opportunities to grow in the four years we were together. All that we did together, I want to keep that momentum going.”

Fletcher was a three-sport standout at Deer Lakes in football, basketball and track and field before continuing to play football at Carnegie Mellon, where he was a four-year letterman for the Tartans at defensive back.

He was named All-University Athletic Association his senior year.

Fletcher returned to his alma mater in a football coaching capacity, serving as the defensive coordinator for the Lancers in 2007 and 2008 before joining the coaching staff at CMU for five seasons.

While at CMU, Fletcher also became heavily involved in youth sports in the communities that serve Deer Lakes School District. He still runs the area youth basketball organization with his wife, Tracy.

“I was doing both for a while, but with four boys, it got a little time consuming and tough with time away from them,” said Fletcher about leaving CMU. “I remained involved with a lot of local things, and it’s been great to have been a part of Deer Lakes for a number of years.”

Fletcher said it was important to maintain a presence with the team, especially after Parham resigned. That dedication, senior all-conference guard Bryce Robson said, resonated with the returning team members.

“When I found out about coach Parham stepping down, I was at an open gym that coach Fletcher was running,” said Robson, a Valley News Dispatch second-team all-star selection for the 2021-22 season. “He came in and talked to us about it and met with us multiple times over the summer. It’s going to really help us transition into the fall and into the season. It was a big relief to know he was going to be the new coach.

“I might sound a little biased, but I feel he was the best assistant coach probably in the entire WPIAL. It’s not surprising to see him step up. He could be a head coach practically anywhere. He puts in the time, probably more hours on film than anybody who I know. There’s not a better man for the job.”

Fletcher got a chance to coach his oldest son, A.J., a 2020 Deer Lakes graduate. Aiden Fletcher will be a junior this season.

“People who know me, know that I probably coach my kids harder than anyone else, and I am probably more critical,” he said with a chuckle. “I just think that comes with the territory, but it’s a special feeling to be able to coach them and share my love of basketball with them.”

Deer Lakes won 86 games in Parham’s seven seasons, and last year’s team went 16-7 overall, 8-4 in conference play, qualified for the WPIAL Class 4A quarterfinals and earned a berth to the PIAA tournament.

Three starters — Armend Karpuzi, Justin Brannagan, and Lucan Tiglio — graduated.

But Fletcher said he is excited for this year’s team and what they can do moving forward.

“I told the guys after coach Parham stepped down that it was business as usual and that we were going to keep working and preparing,” Fletcher said. “There was a (hiring) process that had to play out. The guys have shown a lot of energy and a great work ethic to be ready for the upcoming season.

“It’s going to be a different team with a different dynamic in some spots with the skill sets. But I think this team is going to be a very athletic, deep group. How quickly they come together and understand their roles will be critical to our success.”

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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