Hornets fall to CB West
The Emmaus boys basketball season didn’t end in the first quarter of Saturday’s PIAA playoff game. But when the Hornets’ Josh Artis and Zach Sabol each picked up two early fouls, the Hornets’ chances of advancing got a lot more difficult.
With Emmaus’ two post players both on the bench for eight minutes of the first half, Central Bucks West built a 10-point lead en route to a 53-35 win.
“I felt good three or four minutes into the game,” said Emmaus head coach Steve Yoder. “With three minutes and 40 seconds left I had both of my post players sitting on the bench. That’s hard to overcome when you’re playing state-level basketball. I thought that was where it got away from us and the kids battled from there.”
Sabol picked up his second foul and went to the sideline with 3:01 left in the first quarter. Artis, who had already recorded seven first-quarter points, including a dunk to open his team’s scoring, appeared ready to hold down the paint until Sabol could get back in the game. But Artis, the team’s only senior starter, picked up his second foul with 2:16 left in the first period.
With Sabol and Artis on the bench, Yoder also had to pull out his best defensive player, junior Devon Boyko, to get more offense on the floor.
The Bucks, which finished fourth in District 1, were ahead 11-9 at the time Artis went to the sideline. When the Hornet trio returned to the game with 2:05 left in the first half, CB West’s lead was up to 28-18. A last-second put-back basket by Shane McCusker (game-high 16 points) made it 32-18 at halftime.
The Hornets dented the lead through the third quarter, as baskets by Chris Smith, Artis and Bryce Deihl gave Emmaus a 6-0 run at the end of the third quarter and reduced the lead to 36-28 heading into the final stanza.
A three-pointer to open the fourth quarter helped the Bucks push the lead back to double digits.
Sabol picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter and fouled out with 3:30 left in the game. By then, the Hornets were trailing 45-30 and the Bucks were doing their best to slow the game down.
Artis led Emmaus with 12 points in the game. Diehl added nine points.
The Hornets finish the season at 13-14 overall. They were 9-10 heading into the final week of the regular season before winning three straight to reach districts and then another pair of games to secure a District 11 semifinal appearance and their third trip to states in four years.
“We were 9-10,” said Yoder. “How many high school kids would have just packed it in? We went on a five-game winning streak. We were one minute away from the district finals with a one-point lead. This team battled.
“The younger kids in the program should look at the (upperclassmen) with a lot of respect. You’re going to get handed difficult things in life. Are you going to pout about it and play victim or are you going to go out and compete? This group competed to the end. Even [in the state playoff game]. I hope the parents and the kids are proud.”
Emmaus graduates seniors Artis, Smith, Cole Ferguson, Austin Boyd, Corey Reigel and Nicholas Martelucci.
The Hornets expect to return four starters to next year’s team. The group played six postseason games in 2018, including Saturday’s trip to Council Rock South to face the Bucks (21-6) in the state playoffs.
“We started five juniors [in the district quarterfinal] against Easton,” said Yoder. “We’re going to have to shoot the ball better, but the offense is still going inside-out next year. We have a whole offseason to work on it and I’m sure they’re excited for the challenge.”