By: Josh Yourish
In the fall of 2018, the Deer Lakes soccer team was ousted from the WPIAL playoffs earlier than expected, but the Lancers rallied for a magical PIAA run to the state championship game. They did so by winning nail biters and overtime thrillers. Deer Lakes boys basketball must have been watching. The Lancers managed to escape Clearfield with an overtime victory over Brookville, and after securing their first ever state playoff victory, they entered Armstrong High School for their contest with Forest Hills, searching for more.
Saturday night, Forest Hills upset North Catholic to set up the matchup with Deer Lakes. They did so by holding the Trojans lethal offense to just five fourth-quarter points. When the Rangers defense held Deer Lakes to just three points in the third quarter, it began to look like more of the same. However, the Lancers were not ready to end their own magical season and rallied to win 50-46 and advance to the PIAA quarterfinals.
Deer Lakes started strong, but after a Forest Hills timeout, the Rangers answered stronger by hitting three of their total four, 3-pointers for the game. After one quarter, Deer Lakes trailed 16-11.
The Lancers began to find offensive success in the second quarter, and the catalyst: Brad Perrotte. He capped his eight point quarter, with a last-second step-back jumpshot to put Deer Lakes ahead, 28-24 entering the break.
Then, the offense disappeared. Neither side was able to generate much to start the second half. Deer Lakes was only able to muster three points in the 3rd quarter, but Forest Hills was unable to take much advantage. They only manage seven points of their own.
However, both sides made up for it down the stretch. The teams combined for 34 fourth-quarter points, and the Lancers accounted for enough to appear as if they locked up a comfortable win. Due to important free-throws from Perrotte, junior point guard, Zac Herbinko, and an eight point quarter from senior Jared Colton, they found themselves up five with junior Jack Hollibaugh at the free-throw line, but as if determined to stress out the Lancer faithful they found a way to make it interesting. A Colin Kadlick technical foul, an empty trip to the line for Hollibaugh, and two Zach Myers free-throws for Forest Hills found the Rangers down three, with 14.9 seconds and the ball. It was Myers and not leading scorer, Adam Cecere who took the shot. He forced a three early and came up empty. Aris Hasley grabbed the rebound for Deer Lakes, got fouled, but went just 1-2 at the line leaving just a four point lead and nearly ten seconds on the clock. The Rangers found themselves with life and Lancer fans found themselves without any fingernails left to bite. Again the Rangers forced a 3-pointer and again; no good. The Lancers made it as hard on themselves as the could late, but left Armstrong high school with their second state playoff win.
Hollibaugh finished with 12 points to go along with Perrotte’s game-high 16. Cecere led the Rangers with 15. Deer Lakes will continue its run on Saturday as they face district 10 champion Sharon in the PIAA quarterfinals.