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Deer Lakes Ends OLSH’s Run To Earn First WPIAL Title



PITTSBURGH — Deer Lakes has not been a stranger to breaking streaks this season as the Lancers defeated Our Lady of the Sacred Heart on Dec. 22 to end the state-record 74-game winning streak of the Chargers. The two teams met again for a rematch, this time in the Class-3A WPIAL Championship. 

OLSH came into the night with the goal of winning their fifth straight WPIAL title but fell victim to the Lancers for the second time this season. Deer Lakes defeated the Chargers 61-60 for the first WPIAL title in school history.

The Lancers may have not brought a title streak into the game but did bring a first-year head coach and an electric crowd with them.

“One [thing] that comes to mind is ‘A lot of love’ for these players, for this community, our student body. I mean that crowd was electric. I don’t think there is a single person back in West Deer right now. I think they are all down here in Oakland,” said Lancers head coach Albie Fletcher after the game.

The first quarter was controlled by the Lancers as they got 11 points off of the bench from Wayne Love and Collin Rodgers. At the first intermission, Deer Lakes led 21-19. 

Chargers’ Rocco Spadafora caught fire in the second quarter as he scored 11 of his 14 first-half points in the quarter. Spadafora hit three 3-pointers in the quarter to help the Chargers take a 34-30 lead into the second half. 

Spadafora stayed red-hot from beyond the arc in the third quarter as his sixth 3-pointer extended the Chargers’ lead to 9 points, the largest of the game for either squad. Spadafora’s three was the turning point in the game for the Deer Lakes. The Lancers went on a 5-0 run afterward and then shut Spadafora out in the fourth quarter.

“We had to make a couple of adjustments, they were doing some things, they were making shots. We knew we were so close on so many of our sets and things that we were running that we just had to continue to execute a little bit better. We were just a half of a second off somethings,” said Fletcher. “But again, being battle-tested, [the] guys have been in this position before and didn’t waver.”

The Lancers tied the game with about 15 seconds left in the third but entered the final frame down by three as BJ Vaughn hit a buzzer-beater to give OLSH the lead back.

Nate Litrun opened the quarter with a quick lay-up and Michael Butler followed with a three to give the Lancers a 53-51 lead. In total, the lead changed hands seven times in the fourth quarter.

With just over two minutes left, Kirshner scored a pair of free throws and a lay-up to put OLSH ahead 58-55. The Chargers followed this with two turnovers on their next two possessions. Nate Buechel answered with a bucket for the Lancers, but Kirshner scored again to give OLSH their last lead of the night; 60-59.

The winning shot came by Bryson Robson who finished with a game-high 18 points. Billy Schaeffer added 11 points, while Wayne Love scored another ten off of the bench.

OLSH missed two potential game-winning shots in the final six seconds of the game.

The Chargers were led by Rocco Spadafora’s team-high 18 points on six 3-pointers. Vaughn also finished with double digits as he scored 14 and Kirshner added another 10, including OLSH’s final 6 points.

While the school celebrates its first basketball title, head coach and Deer Lakes graduate Albie Fletcher is appreciating the little things that come with it.

“To have worn this jersey a long time ago and to see them wear it with that medal around it, it means the world. It is one of the most special moments of my life,” said Fletcher about his players. “Some of these guys I’ve coached since third grade… To finish up their career in this way, it means the world to me.”

Deer Lakes claimed the first WPIAL title in school history but the season is not yet finished as the Lancers move on to the PIAA state playoffs in pursuit of more hardware. 

“It’s pretty special [to win,] not only for us but for the community to put basketball on the map, you know, finally get the respect that this program deserves,” said Deer Lakes’ Michael Butler.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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