Boys close in on postseason berth
Allentown Central Catholic has been known as a knockdown-shooting team from behind the three-point line this season, and last Friday night at Emmaus High School was no different.
The Vikings connected on six 3-pointers by four different players in the first quarter to help them take a 22-9 lead after the opening frame, and while the Green Hornets fought back, they just did not have enough firepower to make it all the way back, falling 56-44 in an Eastern Pennsylvania Conference matchup.
With Emmaus needing to win two of its final four games of the regular season to qualify for the District 11 Class 6A tournament, it experienced a setback last Friday and a roadblock that was Central Catholic (17-3, 12-2).
The Vikings, lacking size and an inside presence, especially with an injury to its starting center Kevin Kern, have relied heavily on long-range shooting. In the first eight minutes against Emmaus, they jumped out to a 13-point lead.
“They can really shoot the ball, and if they shoot like they did in the first quarter, they are going to be really hard to beat,” said Emmaus head coach Steve Yoder. “They made six threes, and they have a ton of shooters, which makes them hard to guard defensively.”
Emmaus actually opened up the scoring on a layup by senior Josh Artis (nine points) to lead 2-0 early on. But Central Catholic finished the quarter on a 15-4 run for a commanding 22-9 lead.
The Hornets opened up the second quarter on an 8-0 run, fueled by two shots by junior Cameron Brooks (six points) to pull within 22-17.
“I told them that they weren’t going to shoot lights out all the time, so they just needed to keep battling,” Yoder said. “We went on that run early in the second quarter and it showed their resiliency.”
But Central would answer once again, going on an 11-2 run to head into the locker rooms up 33-20 at halftime. The Vikings extended their advantage to as many as 16 (36-20) early in the third quarter, and never allowed the Green Hornets to cut their deficit under 10 for the remainder of the game.
“Our effort was there, just not the execution,” said Yoder. “We have to do better for 32 minutes.”
Junior Zach Sabol tallied another double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Freshman Danny Bohman contributed five points.
Central was led by three players in double-figures, including Dat Lambert with 12 points, Nick Filchner with 11 and leading scorer Jordan McChristian with 16 points.
Needing two wins over the last three games this week to reach the district tournament, Emmaus got one of them Monday with a victory over Nazareth. Down 39-38 heading into the fourth quarter, the Hornets (10-10, 6-9) outscored the Eagles 20-14 in the final eight minutes to get within one win of earning that district playoff berth.
Sabol scored a game-high 21 points against Nazareth, while Artis poured in 16 points and Bryce Diehl added 10 points.
Home games against Whitehall (Wednesday) and Stroudsburg (Friday) finish out the regular season schedule with Emmaus needing one more win to clinch a district berth.
“We know that our goal is right there in front of us,” said Yoder. “If you get into districts, anything can happen. We want to be one of those teams.”