Hornet boys bounce back with league victory
After two tough losses to McKeesport and Pittsburgh Central Catholic in the Penn Hills Tournament in Pittsburgh to close out December, the Emmaus boys basketball team sought to open the new year on a positive note in conference play.
And in their first contest since returning from Pittsburgh, it was a total team effort from the Hornets in defeating a scrappy Northampton team on Friday night at Emmaus High School. Behind all five starters scoring in double figures, the Hornets held off the Konkrete Kids for the 59-47 victory.
The win keeps the Hornets (5-4, 4-0) undefeated in conference play with a number of games against upper-echelon talent coming in the upcoming week.
"We wanted to build the momentum," said Nate Feiertag. "Coming off those two losses in Pittsburgh, I know our morales are kind of low. We wanted to get a win, [and] start up another streak especially in the league."
Prior to those out of conference losses, the Hornets reeled off three straight divisional victories to remain perfect in the LVC.
"Our kids, I think, we're looking forward to getting back into league play," said head coach Steve Yoder. "We really emphasized maintaining our home court. I thought Northampton shot really well and played really well, and we were fortunate enough to come out with a nice 12-point win."
The Hornets opened up a 31-24 lead at halftime after scoring eight of the final 10 points of the opening half. Joe Nicolini had nine of his 13 points in that first half, while Feiertag and Gabe Shankweiler each scored eight a piece in helping the Hornets open up their largest lead of the first 16 minutes.
After going up by 14 points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Konkrete Kids (2-8, 0-4) went on an 11-2 run to make things interesting in the final minutes. In the midst of that run, the Konkrete Kids connected on two three-pointers and finished with eight makes from beyond the arc.
The Hornets, though, scored eight of the final 10 points to secure the victory.
"I got to give them a lot of credit," said Yoder. "I thought defensively that we challenged a lot of their threes and they just made them. Our kids weathered the storm and got a nice win in the end."
Nicolini paced the Hornets with a team-high 13 points, while Derek Tannous and Dan Brndjar each tallied 12 apiece. Feiertag scored 10 and grabbed 13 rebounds, while Shankweiler added 10 points and nine rebounds.
"As a coach, it's virtually impossible to defend a team that has five scorers," said Yoder. "I think that put them in a tough spot. And if we continue to have balance like that we're going to be in a pretty good spot most games."
While Feiertag is the team's leading scorer thus far on the season, he enjoys getting his teammates involved just as much as scoring the ball himself.
"I love seeing my teammates score," said Feiertag. "I try to get them involved and look for my own shot too. Make sure everybody is working together and make sure everybody stays happy."
Two of the Hornets' next three games will be on the road, starting with a trip to Whitehall on Friday. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.