East Penn Press

Tuesday, February 25, 2020
PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERBThe Hornets’ Paige Inman drives to the basket against Parkland. Copyright - Don Herb 2017_ PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERBThe Hornets’ Paige Inman drives to the basket against Parkland. Copyright - Don Herb 2017_

Girls need four more wins to reach postseason

Thursday, January 30, 2020 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

Whether or not the Emmaus girls basketball team qualifies for districts, one has to admit that the Lady Hornets are going down fighting. Every time it seems they’re in trouble – either in an individual game or in fighting for a playoff spot – they come firing back.

In a recent loss to Parkland, the Lady Trojans pulled away late in the game thanks to hot foul-shooting that made it a 44-27 final. Emmaus (8-10 overall, 4-9 EPC) had cut an 18-point lead down to 12 in the fourth quarter before the foul-line heroics.

The loss, combined with a loss to Northampton (16-3, 10-3) on Friday, left Emmaus needing four wins over its final five games to reach districts. With difficult games among those five, the Hornets bounced back Monday night to beat Dieruff 55-25.

As is their routine, the Hornets used a balanced scoring attack with three different players – freshman Keziah Brantley, junior Stephanie Klemick and senior Alyssa Burkhart – all scoring with a team-high eight points. Dieruff (3-15, 1-12) received 16 of their 25 points from Kalis Collazo.

In the loss to Parkland (12-5, 9-4), both Kameron Watkins and Marah Sisonick scored a team-high six points for Emmaus.

“I’ve told the girls just how proud of them I am for battling as hard as they do,” said coach Kelsey Gallagher. “We know that we haven’t left ourselves an easy road, but they’re playing hard and just focusing on the task at hand and we’ve seen that from them all season long.”

Needing to win three of their final four games won’t be easy for the Hornets. The first three are on the road at Nazareth (16-2, 12-1), Central Catholic (10-8, 6-7) and a nonconference game at Blue Mountain (12-6, 6-5 Schuylkill League). The Hornets wrap up the season at home against Whitehall (6-13, 3-10) on February 3.

“We’re in a very difficult division and you finish the season with division games,” said Gallagher. “We knew there wouldn’t be easy games at the end of the season, but we’re a better team than we were the first time we faced those teams and we’re all staying positive about our chances.”

Emmaus won’t qualify for the EPC playoffs. To qualify for districts, teams have to finish with at least a .500 winning percentage in league games or overall. Emmaus can’t reach that mark in the EPC, but they do have a shot at getting in with their overall record.

“We know that if we can find a couple wins and get it to that last game, we should be in pretty good shape,” Gallagher believes. “That last game will be Senior Night and there will be a lot of excitement and if it comes down to that one game, we will definitely be ready.”

Emmaus last qualified for districts in the 2013-2014 season. Since taking over for the 2017-2018 season, the team has shown improvement under Gallagher, who has added some consistency to the coaching position after a number of changes during a short period of time. Gallagher is seeing the rewards of that consistency as younger players are reaching varsity after having played in her system at the middle school and JV levels.

This season’s team is young, with just three senior players and four junior players. Sophomores and freshmen are seeing significant minutes on the court and are producing for Gallagher at the varsity level.

“I’m optimistic about our young players,” she said. “We have more girls coming from JV and some nice players at the middle school level who are really playing well, so I’m excited about how things look down the road.”