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Deer Lakes girls basketball team wins tournament, still unbeaten

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Bill Shirley | For The Valley News Dispatch
St. Joseph's Amanda Klawinski (left) and Deer Lakes Danielle Kearns scramble for a loose ball during the 17th Annual Spartan Holiday Tournament on Saturday night at Saint Joseph High School.
Top high school sports
By George Guido
Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, 10:26 p.m.

For the second time in the past three seasons, the Deer Lakes girls basketball team completed its December schedule unscathed.

For the third straight season, the Lancers posted a championship-game victory over host St. Joseph in the 17th annual Spartan Holiday Tournament at the Walter Dlubak Athletic Center.

Tournament MVP Becca Babincak scored 14 points as Deer Lakes (8-0) led the entire game Saturday night for a 41-21 victory.

Lancers coach Dana Petruska, however, is still looking for a complete game from her team, which is ranked third in the latest Trib Total Media Class AA poll.

“Still looking for certain position players,” Petruska said. “The starting five is pretty much set, but I've got to find some subs. We have some ideas, but we're so young.”

Other than the five starters, the remainder of the Deer Lakes' roster is comprised of sophomores and freshmen.

Junior Mallory Heinle scored 14 of the 21 points for St. Joseph (5-3) and collected nine rebounds.

For Spartans coach Dan Slain, it's like a movie he's seen before.

“It's like ‘Groundhog Day,' ” Slain said. “I'm the Bill Murray of coaching. But Deer Lakes is a good team. We wanted to step up in class and play a good, senior-laden team tonight.”

St. Joseph is ranked fifth in the Trib Total Media Class A poll.

Deer Lakes took advantage of 26 Spartans turnovers.

“Our big thing was ball security; we had forced errors and unforced errors,” Slain said. “Turnovers are part of the game, but you can't make it the whole game.”

Nichole Kearns made a trio of 3-pointers as the Lancers built a 24-11 halftime advantage.

Heinle, held to one field goal in the first half, heated up in the third quarter with seven points, but St. Joseph couldn't trim its deficit to single digits.

Danielle Kearns led Deer Lakes with six rebounds, nine steals and six blocks.

“This is one of those coaches' dream teams,” Petruska said. “They're not all basketball players — they play other sports. But when they step on the basketball floor, they give me every ounce of energy they have. And that's all you can ask for.”

The Deer Lakes' coach is looking toward some January challenges, such as road section games at Apollo-Ridge and Burrell and a nonsection game at Mohawk on Friday.

George Guido is a freelance writer.

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