Hornets fall to Red Knights
POTTSVILLE – Unless you’ve watched the Emmaus boys’ basketball team play on more than one occasion and not a Johnny-come-lately, nothing should surprise you about this scrappy squad.
Unyielding through a frenzied, physical matchup with one of the state’s top ranked class 4A teams Reading High, the Green Hornets (20-9) seemed so determined to continue a season of hope that even at the end of the game in a jammed-packed Martz Hall, they kept playing like it was a schoolyard meeting.
It never came to pass for the upstart Hornets, and there was no question about competing, which they did before faltering late in the final quarter ending up on the losing side 71-54, in a much closer game than the final score indicates.
“I think that was the difference in the game,” said Emmaus coach Steve Yoder about the up-and-down pace. “I think Reading got it to the point that they felt comfortable, not that we’re not comfortable with that type of (running) game.”
Yoder noted that he found the Red Knights (27-3) had a totally different demeanor than he had seen on film.
“When I watched them on film, they seemed disinterested a lot,” he said. “But they were interested tonight.”
Surely the Knights were cued in Wednesday before 3,200 fans, which seemed to have a majority of the onlookers cheering for a Reading team that lost just three games this season to Coatesville, Archbishop Carroll and Clinton, Maryland.
Emmaus matched the early Reading output, forging ties at 6-6 and 8-8, before Reading slipped ahead for a 19-15 first-quarter lead. Hornet junior guard David Kachelries was on a mission for the Hornets, as he knocked home his team’s first four points, and drained two more baskets in the first period.
“We knew what kind of players they had, but we just had to try and play through it,” said Kachelries, who led his team with 18 points, followed by a fiery Brandon Repose with 11 and unsung fellow senior Cameron Widdoss adding nine.
“They’re a lot like Allen and Pocono Mountain, so we were used to the pressure. But we got rattled a little bit early. That was basically it.”
Kachelries was referring to the defensive pressure the Knights used to unravel the Hornets. That alone caused 14 turnovers in the first three quarters, while eventually taking its toll as the game wore on.
Even though highly-recruited guard Lonnie Walker drew everyone’s attention, and rightfully so as he had 14 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, it was the slick play of guards Damon Stern (game-high 22 points), Khary Mauras (11 points) and 6-foot junior power forward Isiah Cook (10 points) that did in the Hornets.
What Reading did exceptionally well was rebound deftly and kept the Hornets in check. The Knights rang up a huge 33-17 advantage, including 13 off the offensive end, and that was the difference.
“They’re athletic and we’re used to that, but they were a little better at that,” said Yoder of rebounding. “All the credit to them; but I think we were a little impatient on the offensive end, and we ended up playing a little too much defense.”
Reading’s quickness showed in the middle of the second quarter as it jacked the score 22-15, before Yoder called a timeout. However it didn’t faze the Knights, expanding the lead to 29-20 with 3:37 to play.
Undaunted, Emmaus turned to David Kachelries’ brother, Matthew, as he drove inside on the taller defenders twice and Widdoss buried a triple to close with a rush trailing only by a basket (31-29) at the half.
The Knights opened the third with a little more vigor. It was 6-6 senior Oenis Madina that uplifted the inside game as he drained eight points for a 39-30 lead, and when his team netted eight of the final 10 points for a 47-36 lead, Emmaus was faced with a difficult task.
“Our concern was being proactive and defending them,” said Reading’s head coach Rick Perez. “We had to focus on making sure we defended. You’ve got to remain consistent. I knew they wanted this game in the 45s, but when I saw them (pressing), I knew it was going to be in our favor.”
The pace was favoring the Knights to start the final eight minutes.
Stern drained the first seven points to open the final chapter. Then the bubble burst on the Hornets midway through the period, as Walker drove inside for two, Mauras hit another basket, before Stern sank two foul conversions and another deuce for a commanding 62-47 lead.
“This was a cerebral bunch of kids to coach,” said Yoder. “We’ve evolved a whole lot different than the team that started the season. This has been such a unique team to coach… they were a lot of fun.”
D. Kachelries 8-0-3-18, Reposed 5-1-2-11, Widdoss 3-1-1-9, M.Kachelries 3-0-0-6, Polczynski 3-0-0-6, Feiertag10-02, Scarnulis 1-0-0-2, Cihocki0-0-0-0. Totals 24-2-6-54.
Stern 7-5-6-22, Walker 7-0-1-14, Mauras 5-1-6-11, Cook5-0-1-10, Medina 4-0-2-8, McCutchen 2-0-0-4, Dixon 1-0-0-2, Gay 0-0-0-0, Butler 0-0-0-0, Starks 0-0-0-0. Totals 24-2-6-71.
Three-pointers: Emmaus – D. Kachelries 2,Widdoss 2. Reading – Stern 3.
Emmaus 15 14 7 18 – 54
Reading 19 12 16 24 – 71