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Girls beat Emmaus

Special to the Press

Emmaus has had a surprising start to their season. After finishing last season 5-8 overall and just 4-7 in the EPC, the Lady Hornets came into Northampton riding a five-game win streak and a perfect 5-0 mark in the conference, looking to make a big statement. In the end, it was Grace Lesko who made a statement with 17 points in the game, leading the Konkrete Kids to a 46-27 win. In addition to. Lesko, Kylie Gilliard chipped in with 12 points in the win.

The Hornets (7-3, 5-1) came out strong, scoring the first six points of the game, but Northampton (8-2, 4-1) slowly closed the gap until a Nicole Yellen jump-shot tied the game at nine with 1:37 left in the first quarter. Emmaus’ Kam Watkins, who led Emmaus with 10 points, got to the foul line and hit one of two shots to give the Hornets a 10-9 lead at the end of the quarter.

From there, Emmaus’ shooting went from hot to cold, while Northampton started to pick up the pace offensively. A three-pointer from Gilliard with 5:56 left in the second quarter gave Northampton the lead for the first time and sparked an 8-0 run that stretched the lead to 17-10 and then to 19-11 by halftime. Emmaus finished the night shooting just 7-for-40 (17-percent) from the floor and 9-for-18 from the line.

While the result was good and the score makes it look like the Kids played a great game, coach Jeff Jacksits was not completely happy with how his team played in the game. His main point of contention was that his team had trouble with ball control throughout the game, something that stronger teams would take advantage of.

“The part I didn’t like were the 25 turnovers. We had 11 in the first half and 14 in the second half and we were still up,” pointed out Jacksits. “Our defense in the first half only gave up 13 points, but it was how they got those points. A lot came off turnovers and we let them drive to the basket and if they make more of those layups to the basket the game is different. We were not fast enough and didn’t move our feet at all in that first half. We were running at them and letting them drive past us. The other teams we have to play are teams that we are going to have to stop from driving like that.”

Northampton used another 8-0 run to start the second half and in the final two minutes of the third quarter went on a run that put the game away. Over a seven-minute span, Lesko scored eight of her 17 points and led the Konkrete Kids on a 12-0 run that made it 41-22 with five minutes left in the game.

“We came out pretty quick and got those eight points to get a lead and then we started to do better, but the turnovers were still frustrating at times,” said Jacksits. “The good thing is that some of the girls got some playing time and that’s always good.”

The EPC has several teams in contention for the postseason. Easton and Bethlehem Catholic are both 4-0 in league play, while East Stroudsburg South, Pocono Mountain West, Nazareth, Northampton, Central Catholic and Emmaus all have just one conference loss. Pleasant Valley has just two losses within the EPC. In all, eight teams will qualify for the EPC tournament.

“There are four or five definitely strong teams. Easton is loaded and Nazareth is always good, plus Central Catholic is solid and they’re going to be good for a while because they have a young team,” Jacksits said when asked about the state of the EPC. “There are five or six teams that are really pushing each other, and they can all beat each other on any given night.”

Northampton has road games at Whitehall (1-8, 1-3) and Pocono Mountain East (2-4, 1-3) before hosting a showdown with rival Nazareth (8-1, 4-1) on Tuesday.