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PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERBEmmaus’ Megan Navistky tries to get position against a Parkland defender during last week’s game agains the Trojans. Copyright - Don Herb 2017_ PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERBEmmaus’ Megan Navistky tries to get position against a Parkland defender during last week’s game agains the Trojans. Copyright - Don Herb 2017_

Girls get past PMW for first win

Thursday, December 21, 2017 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

Years from now when Emmaus coach Kelsey Gallagher looks back on her first win as a head coach, it will probably look much better than it did when it happened this past Saturday.

The Hornets downed Pocono Mountain West 55-49 in a game that consisted of 55 fouls leading to 73 foul shots, but in the end, it was a win and Gallagher and her team will take it.

The two teams also had trouble handling the ball, leading to 56 turnovers in the game.

“The overall picture of the whole thing is that we did win it, but we can’t forget about [the turnovers and fouls] because that’s what hurt us in the first three games,” said Gallagher. “Just because we won it doesn’t mean that we can’t think about it and practice it Monday and Tuesday.

“We’ll work on cutting down turnovers, work on defense, work on making foul shots and doing all the small things that will make wins like this a little easier next time.”

While the game wasn’t exactly one for the highlight reels, Gallagher and her players took time to celebrate the win in the locker room following the game. There was a lot of cheering and players congratulating Gallagher on her first win, but the first-year coach said it was more of a team celebration than anything of a personal moment.

“What was more important was us celebrating it together,” she said. “Not only was it my first win, it was our first win together, so we talked about there could be more of those to come, but we need to take care of the little things to get more of those wins.”

Bri Hart led all scorers with 17 points and Leah Tannous finished with 13. Asiah Leonard had 14 for Pocono Mountain West and Paige Knecht had 10.

Emmaus shot 59 percent from the free throw line and 57 percent in the fourth quarter, but Tannous connected on her last four attempts to help put the game away. Alyssa Burkhart went 3-for-4 from the line with all of her attempts coming in the fourth quarter. The fourth quarter was all about foul shooting, with all 11 of Emmaus’ points coming from the line. For the Panthers, 11 of their 13 points came on foul shots as the two teams combined for just one basket in the game’s final eight minutes.

Pocono Mountain West went on a 12-0 run to end the first half and take a 26-23 lead at the break. The Panthers started the third quarter with a three-pointer from Knecht to make it a 15-0 run and Gallagher didn’t waste any time looking to get her team refocused.

“The first minute, we were kind of sluggish so I took a quick timeout and told them ‘offense only works if we get a stop defensively, if we work together, if we communicate and we’re in the right spots,’” said Gallagher. “They sort of fed on that and they worked really hard. They were in the right spots on defense and we were able to do things offensively and it made things easier for us.”

With players getting in early foul trouble and Kathryn DeJohn and CeCe Wippel eventually fouling out, younger players had an opportunity to step in for more minutes than they might usually get and performed well. Sophomores Burkhart and Megan Navitsky both finished with six points, with Navitsky going four-for-six from the foul line in the game.

“We’ve got to get better at moving our feet and not playing defense with our hands, but we were able to keep our composure,” said Gallagher. “We had two girls foul out, but Leah played with four fouls and we were able to depend on the younger girls to step up and fill that spot.

“We did what we were supposed to. We ran the press-break pretty well and we didn’t get too jumbled like we did in the past and that took pressure off of them and we were able to get over half-court. Once we got over half-court, things got easier.”