East Penn Press

Monday, February 24, 2020
PRESS PHOTO BY LINDA ROTHROCKEmmaus’s Bianca Rollins controls the ball during a recent game. PRESS PHOTO BY LINDA ROTHROCKEmmaus’s Bianca Rollins controls the ball during a recent game.

EHS girls focus on one quarter at a time

Thursday, January 16, 2020 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

Welcome to 2020!

Since its loss to the defending state champion Bethlehem Catholic team on the second day of the year, Emmaus rattled off four wins in an eight-day stretch to bring its season record to 6-7 overall.

The Hornets have won the four games by an average of 15 points and came from behind to beat Wilson West Lawn 46-41 Saturday at Emmaus.

One tell-tale sign of Emmaus’ recent success has been how the scoring has been spread around. In their four wins, four different players have led the team in scoring, with two of the leaders being freshmen and two seniors. Freshmen Keziah Brantley scored 18 against Wilson, while Paige Inman scored 15 in a 53-45 win over Liberty.

For the seniors, Alyssa Burkhart led with seven in a low-scoring 36-10 win over East Stroudburg North and Brooke Wunderler scored 10 to beat Pocono Mountain East 47-26.

“Our girls aren’t selfish,” said Hornet head coach Kelsey Gallagher. “We’ve stressed moving the ball around and I think we’re gaining confidence to where girls can put up a shot if they think they have a good look.”

It helps that Gallagher, who is in her third season as the team’s head coach, is seeing players reach the varsity level who have worked under her system at the JV and junior high levels.

After the team went through three coaches in four seasons, Gallagher has provided stability that has allowed the girls to focus on one system and not be on a constant learning curve.

“We stress defense first and our JV teams and middle school teams follow that philosophy,” said Gallagher. “It helps that these girls have all worked under the philosophy of playing defense and moving the ball around, so that when they get to varsity, they already know the system really well and aren’t still in that learning process. A lot of the credit goes to our coaches at those other levels for getting the girls ready to play varsity basketball.”

In the dominant win over East Stroudsburg North, Emmaus held the Timberwolves to just 10 points, including just two in the first half when the Hornets had taken a 26-2 lead.

To reach districts, teams need to finish the season with a .500 winning percentage in either their conference or overall. The Lady Hornets are 6-7 overall and 3-6 in the East Penn Conference with nine games remaining, eight of which are against EPC opponents. Gallagher believes her team is better now than it was at the start of the season and its recent win streak has given it renewed confidence to play against better opponents which, could help when it faces EPC teams for the second time around late in the season.

“We’ve made some changes to our team, too,” said Gallagher of the prospects for picking up wins. “We’re not the same team that we were a month ago or even just a couple of weeks ago. We’ve taken a slightly different approach and I think that we’re playing really well now and it’s going to be interesting to see how we can do late in the year when we see some of these teams that we lost to earlier in the year.”

With the recent success, is the team starting to think about a potential conference or district playoff spot? A spot in districts would be the school’s first since the 2013-2014 season when it beat Pottsville in a play-in game before falling to Pocono Mountain West in the quarterfinals.

“The girls aren’t even talking about that at all,” said Gallagher. “At the beginning of every quarter I tell them to come out and win the first two-minutes of the quarter and set the tone and we take things in one quarter chunks and don’t look down the road.”