Boys win three straight
It was a tough task at hand, but one which was achievable.
The Emmaus boys basketball team entered the last week of the regular season needing two wins in its final three games to qualify for the District 11 Class 6A tournament. Not only did the Hornets win two, they won all three games last week to clinch their ninth consecutive trip to districts.
“It’s not the spot that we expected or wanted to be in during the last week of the season, but you have to deal with what’s in front of you,” said Emmaus head coach Steve Yoder. “I’m proud of the guys in how they battled this week. It’s nine straight years now our program has qualified for districts, which is something to be really proud of. Not many other schools in the district can say that.”
The week started with a victory against Nazareth on Monday, a team that was also fighting for its postseason life. Then, in back-to-back nights, Emmaus took down Whitehall on Thursday night to clinch the district berth before beating Stroudsburg last Friday night for the cherry on top and some momentum heading into the postseason.
“It feels good to be able to accomplish this as a senior in my final year with the program,” said senior forward Josh Artis. “We didn’t want to play our last game yet this year, and as a class did not want to be the class that breaks the district streak.”
Against the Mounties last Friday at Emmaus High School, Artis tallied six points, six rebounds and two blocks to help the Hornets to a 52-33 triumph in their regular season finale.
Emmaus led 10-4 after the first quarter, but struggled shooting from the field in the second quarter, going 3-for-12 as Stroudsburg outscored Emmaus 15-8 to hold a 19-18 lead at halftime.
But the third quarter was a completely different story as Emmaus went on a 19-4 run and held the Mounties to just one field goal. Stroudsburg went 1-for-8 from the floor in the third quarter.
“We knew that coming out of halftime we had to play better and pick up the intensity on both ends of the floor,” Artis said. “And we did that in the third quarter. Our offense and defense was a lot better. That quarter showed how good of a team we can be when we play hard on both ends of the court.”
Junior Zach Sabol, who was voted to the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference Third Team, finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Classmate Bryce Diehl contributed 12 points, three assists and two rebounds. Cam Brooks had 11 points, five rebounds and three assists.
In Thursday’s 52-51 win over Whitehall, Diehl scored a team-high 13 points, while Sabol chipped in with 12 points to help the Hornets overcome an 25-16 halftime deficit.
In last Tuesday’s 58-53 win over Nazareth, Sabol poured in a game-high 21 points, while Artis added 16 points and Diehl chipped in with 10 points. Emmaus made 18 of 23 free throws in the win, while the Blue Eagles went 13-for-21 from the line.
The Hornets will be the No. 7 seed in the Class 6A district tournament. They will likely open the tournament with a quarterfinal match up on Saturday, Feb. 24 against Easton or East Stroudsburg South.