EHS girls post six wins in season’s first eight games
Head coach Kelsey Gallagher has the Emmaus basketball team off to its best start in her five years at the helm. The 6-2 opening (4-0 in the East Penn Conference) has not come without a few bumps and inconsistencies, which are to be expected considering there is a lot of youth on the team.
The season opener may have foreshadowed the improvement that would be seen in the team this season when the Hornets beat a strong Liberty team in a nonconference game. The Hurricanes are now 6-3 overall and 2-2 in conference play.
From there, Emmaus rode a 2-2 roller coaster through its first four games, but comes into 2022 with a four-game winning streak.
“A lot of the success has come from the confidence that we got from that first win and from the work that the girls are doing to keep getting better,” said Gallagher. “Our seniors have provided a lot of leadership for the team and that has helped the younger players gain confidence and continue to get better.”
The process of working out the inconsistencies that come with a young team is continuing as the Hornets face issues with their performance head on. The team’s foul shooting stands at just 49 percent for the season and one can argue that the schedule has been relatively easy with opponents having a combined mark of 22-45 at this point in the season.
“We do some things well, but we don’t always capitalize on them,” said Gallagher. “We do a good job of getting to the line, but we must be better than hitting less than 50 percent of our shots. Defensively, we force a lot of turnovers – we got 25 turnovers against East Stroudsburg South – but we struggle to turn them into points. We put in extra time at every practice working on foul shooting and keep stressing how important it is to capitalize on things like turnovers.”
The schedule gets tougher with the Hornets’ next four opponents having a combined mark of 15-8. They play road games against Freedom (3-3, 2-1) and Northampton (7-1, 3-0) this week and then host Pocono Mountain West (2-2, 1-1) and Parkland (3-2, 1-2) next week.
“As coaches, we have been telling the players not to worry about what’s down the road, just take care of the day ahead,” said Gallagher. “We focus on what we need to do in practice and then prepare for one game and not worry about what comes after that. The coaching staff looks at the big picture and plans for what is down the road, but with young players, we want them to just focus on the task at hand.”
Much of the success comes from a team of players who are willing to share the wealth on offense and from the contributions of young players.
Of the team’s top three scorers – Mya Cooper, Paige Inman, and Taylor Griffith – two are sophomores and the other is a junior. The Hornets’ top five scorers are all within less than a point and a half of each other with Cooper and Inman averaging 7.13 points per game and senior Grace Oglesbee chipping in with 5.75 points per game.
In their eight games, five different players have been the team’s leading scorer. Griffith is a sophomore who has done her work coming off the bench and has shown a penchant for hitting three-pointers.
The team made the expanded district playoffs last season with a 5-8 overall record. This season, the team looks to head into the postseason on a higher note and is currently in good shape not just to qualify for districts, but to make the EPC playoffs as well.
Heading into this week Emmaus was one of just four undefeated teams in the conference with Northampton, Easton, and Nazareth. Their showdown with Northampton this week will knock one of them from the ranks, but the Hornets do not have Easton or Nazareth on their regular season schedule.
“I think the girls are excited about playing and have the confidence to go up against strong teams,” said Gallagher. “We are working to fix a couple things and make the team stronger than we are right now, but we beat a good Liberty team, so we can play against good teams. We took advantage of the early schedule to gain some confidence and it will pay off for us down the road.”