East Penn Press

Sunday, January 20, 2019
PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERBEmmaus’ Sarah Hoch drives around a defender during an early-season game. Copyright - Don Herb 2017_ PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERBEmmaus’ Sarah Hoch drives around a defender during an early-season game. Copyright - Don Herb 2017_
PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERB Emmaus' Alyssa Burkhart takes the ball to the basket against Northampton. Copyright - Don Herb 2017_ PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERB Emmaus' Alyssa Burkhart takes the ball to the basket against Northampton. Copyright - Don Herb 2017_

Girls earn first win

Wednesday, January 2, 2019 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

It wasn’t easy, but the Lady Hornets picked up their first win of the season in a nonconference game against the Scranton Lady Knights.

Emmaus shut down the Knights offense in overtime for a 54-44 win heading into the Christmas break.

Emmaus (1-6 overall, 0-4 EPC) came out looking to hit three-pointers, hoping to avoid dealing with the size of Colette Mulderig, who controlled the lane for Scranton for much of the game. The Hornets hit on five of 12 three-point shots in the first half, but Scranton found a way to battle and the two teams were tied 8-8 after the first quarter. Emmaus continued to hit threes and led 25-20 at halftime, thanks in part to freshman Sarah Hoch, who scored seven points in the second quarter for the Lady Hornets.

“Sarah is a burst of energy coming off the bench,” said Hornet head coach Kelsey Gallagher. “She’s young and she’s a little raw, but she catches on very quickly and she doesn’t try to do too much. She knows her role. She finds the open girl and stays in front of her girl defensively, and that’s all we ask.

“She’s able to step on the court and produce and it’s paid off. She wasn’t even seeing varsity minutes for the first couple games, but she works very hard and we decided to reward her and she just keeps coming for us. She’s going to be a nice player.”

Gallagher pointed out that players with more varsity experience have helped to bring along Hoch and not allow them to hang their heads when they make a mistake.

Emmaus grew its lead to as many as seven points when Alyssa Burkhart hit a couple of three-pointers to open the third quarter, but the Lady Knights (2-4) wouldn’t go away. They battled back with Mulderig taking things over in the fourth quarter with a basket to tie the game 38-38 with 5:56 left in regulation and then added the next three baskets for Scranton to make it 44-41 with 1:10 left in the game.

Fortunately for Emmaus, Alyssa Burkhart wasn’t done either. Gallagher called a timeout with 1:08 left to play and drew up a play for Burkhart to work off of a double-screen and put up a three-pointer. Plays rarely work out as perfectly as this one did and Burkhart nailed the three-pointer from the left side to tie the game 44-44 with :47 left to play.

“She set up a play and I started from the corner and worked off the double screen and hit the three from the top of the key,” said Burkhart. “I saw it go in. It felt really nice.”

“Not many teams can draw something up and run it exactly the way that it’s drawn up and then get the shot on top of it,” said Gallagher. “That’s just speaking to what we’ve worked so hard on. We had six losses to really good teams and we never hung our heads.”

Burkhart would score four key points in the overtime period as she and sophomore Gabrielle Martin handled the offense and the Emmaus defense shut down Mulderig and the Lady Knights for the 10-point win, their first of the season after six losses. Burkhart finished with 17 points and Martin added 13 in the win.

“We keep a positive attitude about it and just go into practice the next day and just work on our mistakes and try to focus on getting a win the next time,” said Burkhart about how the players have handled the early season adversity. “I think if we just keep playing good defensively, we’ll be okay. We don’t have a very big team, but I think we’re doing a good job of helping and limiting the opportunities for the other team. We have some girls who can hit three-pointers and that helps to open things up inside for us.”

If there was any facet of the game that led Emmaus to their first win of the season, it was patience. Gallagher has stressed to her team to be more patient with their shots while also not sacrificing aggressiveness to hit threes when they’re open. The approach came together in the win over Scranton.

“We’ve been working on being more patient and it showed today,” said Gallagher. “We’re working on not coming down and taking the first shot that’s granted to us and realizing that the third or fourth time, we’re going to get a better shot.”