Girls win two of three
After a five-game losing skid, the Emmaus girls basketball team has now won two of its last three games, downing Scranton in a nonconference game and then beating Pocono Mountain East in convincing fashion in a 47-26 win. The only loss came against defending Class 4A state champion Bethlehem Catholic.
The upcoming schedule would seem to give the Lady Hornets (3-7 overall, 1-6 East Penn Conference) an opportunity to turn things around and gain some confidence with some wins. The schedule has games against East Penn Conference opponents Liberty (4-7, 2-7), East Stroudsburg North (1-9, 0-7) and Allen (4-7, 2-5) and a nonconference game against Wilson West Lawn (3-4 overall).
Hornet head coach Kelsey Gallagher is hoping that the team can pick up some needed wins to give them a boost going into a much tougher schedule against Stroudsburg (11-1, 6-1), Blue Mountain (9-2, 4-1 Schuylkill), Parkland (7-3, 5-2) and Northampton (8-3, 4-3).
“The girls have continued to work hard and they’ve kept up their morale even when we were in that tough stretch where things just seemed to keep going wrong for us,” said Gallagher. “With a couple of wins now and more very winnable games coming up on the schedule, this is a good time for us to keep things rolling and gain more confidence that we hope will carry us in tougher games.”
Not only is the upcoming schedule favorable, but Gallagher looks at her team and sees positive signs that she hasn’t seen in her tenure as the team’s head coach. One of the bright spots is the play of the younger girls on the team and that the scoring has been spread around to different players this season.
“For the first time in three years, we’re seeing different girls step up and seeing much more balanced scoring,” Gallagher said. “Instead of seeing one girl with 12, we’re seeing more players involved in the offense and we’re able to score in different ways. That’s a really good sign for us, especially since it involves a number of underclassmen who are contributing.”
A case in point is the recent win over Pocono Mountain East when senior Brooke Wunderler led the team with 10 points, followed by Keziah Brantley with eight and senior Alyssa Burkhart with seven. Sophomore Grace Oglesbee scored six and junior Marah Sisonick had five points in the win. Overall, nine different players contributed to the scoring.
The scoring has been important because since Brantley’s early-season heroics, teams have started to key on her a little more, forcing other players to step up and take over on offense. Brantley is still a dangerous player, but she’s also smart enough to get the ball to other players if nothing is there for her.
“We have girls who can shoot and we don’t have to rely on just one player night in and night out,” said Gallagher. “That makes our offense better overall and takes some pressure off of the younger players because there are other players who are chipping in and nobody is trying to carry the weight of the team on their shoulders.”
The stretch of four games against teams with losing records will be a big one for Emmaus’s postseason hopes. While reaching the EPC playoffs is a long shot, qualifying for districts is still in play, but the Hornets will need to get hot against teams that they are able to beat.
The schedule is interesting with a stretch of four games against sub-.500 teams, four against strong teams and a mix of tough and struggling teams over the season’s final four games. To reach districts, Emmaus needs to win eight of their remaining 12 games, which is a tough, but not unrealistic, goal.