HYDE — In a gut-wrenching season-ending decision, the Brookville Raiders led just once all night and wound up losing in overtime.
That’s hard to do, but the Raiders, as they were against Everett for three quarters of their sub-regional win last week, were on the verge of getting buried before climbing back in the game.
Deer Lakes, the WPIAL sixth seed, escaped the Raiders with a 56-52 win at Clearfield Area High School last Saturday night.
Brookville’s season ended at 16-9 and those losses include five losses to four teams who won first-round state playoff games — Elk County Catholic twice, Ridgway, Coudersport and now Deer Lakes, which advanced to Wednesday’s second round against Forest Hills.
“Given everything that’s gone on, we were still fighting injuries, a torn PCL, shoulders, knees, kids battling through it and playing,” said Raiders head coach Dalton Park, whose team was back in the state playoffs for the first time since 2014. “We lost, probably at the time, our best player at the beginning of year and things could’ve gone the other way very easily. The mentality of being down 10 like the kids have, fighting back in all those games, they could’ve quit but fought through the whole season and ended up and having a nice season. I’m pretty proud of them.”
Inexplicably, the Raiders took their first lead of the game with a five-point possession with 1:07 left in regulation that began with Park getting a warning. The new rule allows for officials to stop the game and issue it the scorer’s table.
But from there, Deer Lakes senior Colin Kadlick was whistled for a technical foul for firing the now dead ball at one of the officials, apparently in a misunderstanding of why play was stopped. So the Raiders got two technical free throws and the ball. Aaron Park drilled both free throws and 29 seconds later, David Cable nailed a 3-pointer to put the Raiders up for the first time at 47-45.
Deer Lakes tied it at 47-47 on Zac Herbinko’s putback floater with 15 seconds left, setting up a flurry at the end of regulation that saw Park’s driving layup from the right corner that went in with 1.2 seconds on the clock get called off because he was called for charging with Deer Lake’s Brad Perrotte drawing the foul.
“Honestly, I was standing at the baseline and I watched (Aaron) drive on the last shot and I don’t know how he gets the charge when the kid is sideways moving toward him and gets called for a charge,” Coach Park said. “Honestly, I feel we finished it there. The charge-happy call, I don’t understand that one bit and how you make that call at the end of the game.
Then in overtime, Deer Lakes outscored the Raiders, 9-5, securing the win after rebounding Cable’s potential game-tying 3-pointer from the corner and getting one of two free throws from Aris Hasley with 7.4 seconds remaining.
Deer Lakes (17-7) forced 23 Brookville turnovers and outrebounded the Raiders, 30-23. Perrotte was also the Lancers’ leading scorer with 22 points, making 12 of 16 free throws as Deer Lakes scored all nine overtime points from the line. It was 22-for-33 for the game. Actually, the Lancers scored 14 of their 18 fourth-quarter and overtime points from the line.
“Give Deer Lakes credit,” Park said. “They were tenacious on defense, non-stop and they have five guys on the floor who hustle after every loose ball. Nobody stands and they move and fight hard. They earned themselves a win because of constantly playing hard, all five guys together.
“We didn’t do very well with (turnovers) and threw it right at them at times. Credit them with their pressure. They had five guys everywhere and anticipating and we usually do a better job than that and that cost us a little.”
Aaron Park led the Raiders with 18 points, making all four of his shots from the field and 9 of 11 free throws with a team-high six points. Jace Miner, who fouled out in overtime, scored 13 points. Robert Keth scored eight points.
The Raiders were 16-for-35 (45.7 percent) from the floor, including 5-for-11 from the 3-point line, and converted on 15 of 20 free throws. Deer Lakes was 17-for-42 (40.5 percent) from the field and missed all six of its 3-point shots.
The Raiders were in a 7-0 hole to start the game, but tied it at 15-15 by the end of the first quarter. Deer Lakes went back up 28-23 by halftime and got it to its largest lead at 38-31 following a Herbinko steal and layup with 2:01 left in the third quarter.
After the Raiders got it back to 38-35 with an Aaron Park 3-pointer to start the fourth-quarter scoring at the 7:12 mark, the Lancers extended to eight points at 43-35 on Herbinko’s basket with 3:44 left.
But the Raiders clawed back. Cable drilled the first of his two 3-pointers in the fourth, kick-starting a 7-0 run that got them back to within 43-42 after two Park free throws with 1:27. Two Herbinko free throws put Deer Lakes up 45-42 moments later.
That set up quite a finish that began with Park’s warning after giving one of the officials an earful with just over a minute remaining. Park was airing his concerns on what he felt was inconsistency from the crew.
“I was flat-out telling him that how does he call a foul down there and come down and get hammered (on the other end). I wanted to know how that works,” Park said. “My guys needed fired up a little bit and I needed to let them know. At that time, it was time to say something.
“I can’t coach my kids when it’s ticky-tack and then tough. It’s gotta be one way or another. It can’t be inconsistent. Deer Lakes had to deal with it too.”
Last year, an official would’ve had to decide to whistle Park for a technical fall at that moment or just let it go. The warning, the PIAA feels, gives officials a better chance to manage games.
As it turned out, Deer Lakes got called for a technical foul, allowing the Raiders get their first lead of the game. From there, the Raiders didn’t get the call, or no-call, on Park’s potential game-winner and lost in overtime.
“We’ve started the game in the hole every game against good teams and eventually it’s going to catch us,” Coach Park said. “You can’t keep doing that. I give the kids credit. They keep battling non-stop … We just didn’t have enough to finish it.”