Hornets make playoffs at Cedar Beach
A new identity was formed over the summer. Everyone knew the Emmaus boys basketball team was undertaking a new look with different faces, but not many outside of the Green Hornets program expected the success and growth that the Hornets experienced over the summer months.
Emmaus achieved its yearly goal of qualifying for the final day of the two major summer tournaments, reaching the final four of the Cedar Beach Bash while also making the summer league playoffs at Cedar Beach before falling in the semifinals to Central Catholic.
“Every summer is different,” said head coach Steve Yoder. “Last year we had a veteran team, so I’m not sure how much you get out of it. This year summer was critical for all of the new players we had on varsity.
“They improved all summer, and with continued hard work, health, and some luck, we think this group can challenge for EPC and District 11 titles. That’s the goal, and the boys are extremely excited for what will be a tremendous challenge this year.”
Last year, more often than not, David and Matthew Kachelries led the team and were the high scorers. Throughout this summer, the Green Hornets saw a large number of players step up. Josh Artis, Zach Sabol, Bryce Diehl, Cole Ferguson and Cameron Brooks each took their turns bringing in clutch performances to help win games.
With the summer comes AAU tournaments, other sport obligations, and vacations, so there are games where Yoder does not have his full lineups to use. This was the case during the league playoffs last week.
Last Wednesday in the first round of the summer league playoffs, No. 7 seed Emmaus fell behind early, but battled back to take the quarterfinal round matchup against No. 2 Dieruff 55-50. Diehl led the team with 17 points.
But the next night the Green Hornets met a hot top-seeded Central Catholic team that has been playing its best basketball of late. In a close game in which the Green Hornets held a lead late into the final minutes, the Vikings went on a quick run and held on for a 57-53 victory.
“This group is striving to make its own identity and I believe they did that this summer,” Yoder said. “This year was the first time we have won a summer league playoff game in [several] years.
“It was a great comeback win against a very athletic Dieruff team. Central is going to be one of the favorites this year, and are playing really well right now. We were playing without Zach [Sabol] and Cole [Ferguson] both games, which hurt. But I think the guys really evolved this summer and got great experience in some big games.”
It should be a wide open Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, with the usual teams like Emmaus, Parkland, Allen, Central Catholic and Bethlehem Catholic contending at the top. But Northampton, Liberty, and Dieruff all had promising summers.
“We are all hoping for a fun season with lots of close games,” said Yoder. “There will be no nights off this year, that’s for sure. There is a very fine line between 12-12 and 18-6.”