Story first appeared in the Jan. 20, 2016 edition of the East Penn Press.
Following back-to-back losses, the squad’s only setbacks of the season, it wasn’t about the two games for Emmaus boys’ basketball and its head coach Steve Yoder. It was about how they bounced back.
The Green Hornets took the defeats in stride, turning things right around, as they won their next four games, including their most recent triumph, a 76-66 victory against EPC foe, Whitehall, in the Sports Center of Emmaus High School on Saturday afternoon.
“We talked a lot after the Parkland game about (bouncing back),” Emmaus head coach Steve Yoder said. “We said, ‘Let’s just take it one game at a time and try to go undefeated until we see Parkland again’ and it has worked out so far.”
Whitehall started the contest off on the right foot, leading Emmaus (13-2 overall, 9-1 EPC), 19-16, after the first eight minutes of play.
The second frame did not feature as much offense as the two teams combined for nine turnovers, however, the Zephyrs still were out front, 32-26.
The second half was all Emmaus.
The Green Hornets opened up the third quarter on a 9-2 scoring run in the first 3:15 of the quarter, moving Emmaus into the lead, 35-34, and prompting a Whitehall timeout.
“Pick it up defensively,” Yoder said was his message to the team at the half. “I thought we had another gear and I think the second half showed that. Our physicality wasn’t where it needed to be. Whitehall is a little bit undersized, but they played really hard and strong. Once we matched that, we were in a really good place.”
Out of the timeout, the Zephyrs fought back to tie the game at 37 with 3:48 remaining in the third quarter after a Zachary Gilbert foul shot. Cameron Waddos quickly responded for Emmaus knocking down a three-pointer on the next trip down the court, to re-claim the lead for the Green Hornets, 40-37, with 3:12 left in the third frame, and the EPC leaders never looked back.
All told, Emmaus tallied 24 points in the third quarter. Whitehall scored 34 points in the entire second half.
The Kachelries, Matt and David, led the way for Emmaus offensively, scoring 22 and 21 points respectively, but it was their efforts on the other end of the court that impressed their head coach.
“Offensively, I think everybody knows what they can do,” he said.” Matt is just turning into a monster in front of our very eyes. He is really scoring. Then David is averaging 20 points a game, but I challenge them defensively.
“I called them to the carpet before the game about their defense and they were absolutely outstanding tonight,” Yoder continued. “David had six steals and I think Matt had about the same. They were disciplined. They didn’t put the other three guys on the floor in bad spots by taking chances and I think that showed in our defense, collectively, in the second half.”
The Green Hornets carried their third quarter surge into the final frame, tallying another 26 points in the fourth, as Joey Polczynski chipped in for Emmaus offensively, finishing with 19 points in the contest.
The victory kept Emmaus right with the top teams in the EPC as the postseason looms, but according to Yoder, it has already begun.
“Our focus now is Central Catholic,” he said. “I told the boys that the playoffs have begun for us. We are going to get every team’s best effort. It is a playoff atmosphere. It was a playoff atmosphere in here today and they gave a playoff effort. It is going to be good for us, I hope, going forward.”
Emmaus battled Central Catholic on Tuesday night, after deadline for this issue, and face Steelton-Highspire Wednesday night before hosting Nazareth on Friday night at 7 p.m.