Hornets reach District 11 semifinal
The Emmaus boys basketball team was itching to get back on the court.
Following a heartbreaking loss in the final seconds of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference title game, the Green Hornets had a week off to think about that game and to prepare for a district title run.
The time off and hunger from that loss helped as top-seed Emmaus came out fast and led from start to finish, taking care of ninth-seeded Pocono Mountain West 76-60 last Saturday night at Allen High School in the District 11 Class 6A Quarterfinal Round.
It was the third of three 6A games Saturday at Allen, with the other two games resulting in upsets.
The Green Hornets (21-5 overall) watched as 11th seed East Stroudsburg South shocked third seed Freedom on a three-pointer at the buzzer. They then saw rival and seventh-seeded Parkland handle the two seed Nazareth 64-55 right before they took the court and took care of business.
Emmaus had a lot on the line. Not only was the trend of upsets circulating right in front of them, but a win in the quarterfinals secures at least three more and games, including a spot in the PIAA state tournament.
“I told them to be proud of what they’ve accomplished,” said Hornet head coach Steve Yoder. “It’s hard to win games in our district, and to be able to get back to the state tournament is special. Our coaches told them we’re not done coaching you guys yet. I think they embraced the fact that they could play three more games together with a win. They have a lot to be proud of.”
It was a high-scoring first quarter and first half for both teams. A lot of Emmaus points were scored in transition off of a press.
The Panthers (13-10) use a quick, in-your-face type defense. They like to double-team and trap the ball handler. As an offense, the player with the ball has to act quickly and not hold onto the ball or second-guess a pass or else a turnover will ensue, and that is exactly what West plays for.
“They’re a great team and they are very athletic,” said senior Zach Sabol. “So we just tried to break the press as soon as we could and get assists. The ball moves faster on a pass than on a dribble, so we knew we just needed to move the ball and share it.”
Sabol was one of three seniors that scored in double-figures, finishing with 21 points. He also grabbed his 1,000th career rebound on the night and totaled 17 boards. Mark Swedberg had a game-high 24 points and Ethan Parvel added 16 for Emmaus, which picked up assists on 27 of 32 field goals. Parvel led the way with 10 dishes.
The Hornets went into the locker room at halftime leading 32-25, but used the third quarter to push their lead into a comfortable advantage going into the final quarter. Swedberg was a major catalyst in the second half, recording 22 of his 24 to help Emmaus pull away.
Emmaus is now down to the district’s final four and is just two wins shy of just its second district title in program history and first since 1986.
The Hornets face fifth seed Allen Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Freedom High School. Parkland and East Stroudsburg South open the double-header with a 6 p.m. tip off. The winners will meet Saturday for this year’s district championship.