Graduation-ravaged Deer Lakes boys basketball tries to rebuild on run
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Here's some advice for Deer Lakes fans heading to a boys basketball game this season — buy a program.
After a season that saw the Lancers win their first section title in 21 seasons, the top eight players graduated from a team that went 8-2 in the section, 16-7 overall.
“We don't have a guy on the roster that played a meaningful varsity minute last year,” coach Jon McKay said. “We lost 99 percent of our scoring. I don't want it to come across like we're whining, but that's the state of our program right now.”
Of the 1,263 points Deer Lakes scored last year, all but 18 were tallied by the eight seniors.
All told, it was a successful first season for McKay, who was hired several weeks before the season began.
“I think we surprised a lot of people last year, but we didn't surprise anybody in our locker room,” McKay said. “Those eight seniors really laid a foundation for the program, and for that we'll be indebted to them for years to come.”
Among those departed are Tim Jaczesko, who averaged 23.1 points, and J.J. Kowalkowski, with a 12.8 average.
The new-look Lancers will feature junior Scott Ventura, while freshman Alex Nichols figures to see plenty of playing time.
“The (new) players have a lot of talent, and they're fully committed to basketball,” McKay said. “They learned so much from last year's seniors, and they know what it takes to win — 16 wins just don't fall out of the sky.”
There are 15 Lancers on the roster from grades nine through 12.
McKay also thinks the team's two preseason scrimmages against Freeport and Leechburg will be important as a way to battle inexperience.
“We're still putting some things in, so these scrimmages will tell us a lot,” he said. “Reps are so valuable because you only get 22 of them during the season so these two scrimmages mean a lot.”
Another factor related to vast inexperience is the fact that Deer Lakes had few blowout games last season, which prevented McKay from putting in his underclassmen often.
“That would have been nice, but fortunately we didn't lose by a lot and didn't win by a lot,” McKay said.
Nine of the 10 Deer Lakes section games were decided by 12 points or fewer.
Despite the inexperience, the Lancers aren't shrinking from a challenging nonsection schedule.
The Lancers open at the Plum Tip-off Tournament against Shaler and will visit defending WPIAL Class A champion Vincentian on Dec. 21.
Deer Lakes will play its first six games away from home before hosting Karns City on Dec. 23.
George Guido is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- No summer vacation for Mars boys basketball team
- Belle Vernon coach’s family bonds through basketball