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Michael Butler's 3-pointer in final seconds gives Deer Lakes upset win over Steel Valley in WPIAL 3A semifinals

Butler hit a 3-pointer with just 4.7 seconds left to give the fifth-seeded Lancers the lead
Deer Lakes basketball

BETHEL PARK, Pennsylvania – Makhai Valentine was a hero in Steel Valley’s WPIAL quarterfinal win over Seton LaSalle last Thursday after he converted a game-winning three-point basket at the buzzer.

Unfortunately for top-seeded Steel Valley, Monday was a different story as the Ironmen fell 65-63 to fifth-seeded Deer Lakes in the WPIAL 3A semifinals.

On the final play of the game with Steel Valley trailing by two, Cruce Brookins inbounded the ball to Valentine, who raced up the court while being guarded by Michael Butler, whose 3-pointer on the previous possession had given Deer Lakes the lead.

As the buzzer sounded, Valentine’s shot from about 30 feet hit the back of the rim and bounced away, giving the Lancers an upset victory.

On what turned out to be the game-winning shot, Deer Lakes point guard Bryce Robson found Butler in the corner, who rose up and knocked down a 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds remaining.

“I saw Bryce come down the lane with speed and he gets to the rim really well,” Butler said. “I knew he was going to kick out to me so I just had to make the shot.”

Butler’s shot was in response to a 3-pointer by Steel Valley’s Nahjir Norris that gave the Ironmen a 63-62 lead with 17 seconds remaining.

Monday was the second time the two teams met this season, with Steel Valley winning 62-61 back in December. Deer Lakes spent the last few days watching that game, coming up with a gameplan for Monday night.

“We were 100 percent the more physical team tonight and that was the game plan coming in,” Robson said. “We knew we couldn’t win if we let them run all over us, so we really buckled down, boxed out and got the rebounds that we wanted.”

The game was close throughout and neither team had a substantial lead. The Ironmen led 19-16 at the end of the first quarter and was tied at 37 at halftime and the game was tied five times in the second half.

The Lancers had three players score in double digits, as Nate Litrun with 18 points, Schaeffer with 16 and Bryce Robson with 13.

Valentine led all scorers with 37 points for the Ironmen.

Deer Lakes has never won a WPIAL basketball title, but they have a chance on Friday in the 3A title game against Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. The Lancers defeated the Chargers earlier this season, ending the team’s state-record win streak at 74.

“It feels great (to make it to the WPIAL title game), it means a lot, not only to this team but to our coaching staff and the fans that come out and support us every night,” Butler said. “It’s going to take a lot of focus, and we need to work hard in practice these next couple of days.”