East Penn Press

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERBCC Wippel (24) is one of four seniors who helped the Emmaus girls basketball team turn a corner this season. Copyright - Don Herb 2017_ PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERBCC Wippel (24) is one of four seniors who helped the Emmaus girls basketball team turn a corner this season. Copyright - Don Herb 2017_

Girls make strides under Gallagher

Thursday, February 15, 2018 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

Kelsey Gallagher completed her first season as the head coach of the Emmaus girls team when her team downed Whitehall 46-44 in the season finale.

The win left Emmaus with an 8-14 record on the season and finished a campaign that fell short of where the Hornets wanted to be in wins, but may be looked at as a turnaround season for the program.

“Overall, it kind of exceeded what I expected, not talking so much about wins and losses, but just the experience in general,” said Gallagher. “The girls, the parents, the AD [athletic director Dennis Ramella], they’ve been nothing but supportive. They’ve been with me all along, so in that case it exceeded what I thought that the year would be like.”

Gallagher was hired last July to replace Carl Scheitrum, who led the team for two seasons. While most teams were starting informal practices and working together in the spring and early summer, Gallagher was a little behind in getting to find out about the team that she would have for the 2017-2018 season.

One thing she was sure of was how she wanted the team to play defensively. She put in a new scheme that admittedly took a while for the players to adjust to, but eventually started to click.

Offensively, Gallagher found herself making some adjustments throughout the year, primarily because she saw players developing and fitting into new roles.

“We stayed consistent with our defense, but we changed a few things offensively,” she said. “We started the season with a four-out, one-in type of approach, but as Bri [Hart] and Megan [Navitsky] developed well working with each other, we tried to get the ball inside more. That speaks to the development of our post players, including Brooke [Wunderler], who stepped up as the season went on, which was pretty big for us.”

With one season in the books, Gallagher now has a better sense of just what she has to work with moving forward. The season wasn’t just an adjustment for Gallagher, it was a continuing adjustment for the players. The seniors on this year’s team played under three different coaches in their four years, but Gallagher’s presence has had a stabilizing influence on the team.

Throughout the season, Gallagher was able to mix younger players into games and fit them into roles where they would have the opportunity to develop.

“We’re very young, but as a team, we got so much better since we really got together in September and October,” said Gallagher. “I think a lot of the players — younger players and the seniors — exceeded others’ expectations on where they were.

“Bianca [Rollins], who is a freshman, was logging some good minutes at the point guard position, which being a point guard in the EPC isn’t easy. For her to step in and keep her confidence is huge.”

Gallagher also pointed to the development of Maliah Fraction, who started a couple of games early in the season at point guard before missing some time with an injury.

Overall, Gallagher believes that the team turned a corner this season and that the attitude was more upbeat as the season went on. Emmaus loses four seniors — Bri Hart, Kathryn DeJohn, Leah Tannous and CC Wippel — to graduation.

In addition to the seniors, the roster had just three juniors this season, with eight of the fifteen spots being filled by sophomores and freshmen.

“I think the future is very bright for Emmaus and I think a lot of that credit has to go to the seniors,” said Gallagher. “They set the tone and brought in the hard work and the dedication that goes a long way, especially for young girls who are looking to see what they need to do to improve.”