Article By: CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press
The Emmaus girls basketball team opened the season against two tough nonconference opponents and hoped it would prepare them for the tough EPC schedule. They were prepared and played well, but have found the early part of a difficult schedule to be rough sledding. To open the season, Emmaus had to play Parkland (5-0 overall, 3-0 EPC), Northampton (4-1, 2-1) and Nazareth (5-0, 3-0) last week and there’s not much that can prepare you fully for that type of schedule.
Parkland has faced a number of early injuries, but still have been able to run a tough lineup onto the court. The Lady Trojans slowed down the three-point shooting that Emmaus (1-4, 0-3) relied on in their first two games, but the Hornets still sank five three-pointers as opposed to the eight that they hit in each of their first two games. Freshman Keziah Brantley led Emmaus with two three-pointers and also led the team in scoring with eight points in the 52-30 loss.
“We weren’t quite as strong on our outside shooting as we were in the first two games and we ran into a much tougher defense,” said coach Kelsey Gallagher. “I thought there was still a good effort there from our team, but we didn’t get the results that we were hoping for.”
Junior Lindsey Berger scored 18 points for Parkland and Sonya Shivok finished the game with 10, while Carissa Foght had 10. Berger also provided defensive issues for Emmaus when they tried to get inside.
Against Northampton, the Konkrete Kids defense kept a close eye on Brantley and held her to just two points in a 56-21 win over Emmaus. Alyssa Burkhart and Brooke Wunderler were the high scorers for the Hornets, with Burkhart picking up six and Wunderler chipping in with five points. Meanwhile, Morgan Sterner scored 14 and Taylor Kranzley had 13 for Northampton. The 21 points scored by Emmaus were the fewest this season.
“They were the toughest defense we’ve faced this season and we couldn’t find ways to get a lot of good looks at the basket,” said Gallagher. “We’re going to have those nights, because we’re not a very big team and we will run into faster teams than what we are, so there are going to be some nights like that.”
Nazareth wasn’t able to do the defensive job on Brantley and the rest of Emmaus that Northampton did, but came away with a 57-35 win. Brantley scored a team-high 12 points in the loss and Gabrielle Martin finished with six. The Blue Eagles took turns feeding the ball to Talya Brugler and Leszcynski with Brugler finishing with 23 points and Leszcynski putting up 19 points in the win, keeping Nazareth perfect on the season. Emmaus shot better from beyond the three-point arc, but Leszcynski was on fire from outside and hit five three-pointers in the game.
Word of how Emmaus was shooting from beyond the arc spread quickly and teams are more aware of that as part of Emmaus’ game plan and have looked to shut it down. Word of how Brantley is playing has also gotten around the league and teams are putting stronger defenders on her. Odds are that Brantley will adjust to the added attention and find ways to work around the pressure to put up good scoring numbers.
Emmaus has games against Whitehall (1-4, 0-3), Central Catholic (1-3, 1-2) and Scranton (0-3, 0-2 LIAA) prior to Christmas and then have off until after the New Year’s holiday when they return to league play against Bethlehem Catholic (4-0, 2-0).