Bethlehem Press

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PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERBLewis Hargett and the Pates lost to Emmaus in the opening round of districts. Copyright - DON HERB PRESS PHOTO BY DON HERBLewis Hargett and the Pates lost to Emmaus in the opening round of districts. Copyright - DON HERB

Freedom boys lose to Emmaus

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 by CJ hemerly Special to the Press in Sports

Momentum has played a pivotal role during the season for the Freedom boys basketball team. Whether it was good or bad, the Patriots experienced both ends of the spectrum.

With seven straight losses during the meat of their schedule, it looked like it was going to be a quick end to the season back in late January. But Freedom kept pushing each and every day, and wound up winning five consecutive games to qualify for the district playoffs.

The Patriots found themselves as the seventh seed, and were matched up against an Emmaus team that was coming in angry. The Green Hornets were upset by East Stroudsburg North their last game, a home contest in the EPC quarterfinals two weeks ago. And their star guard, David Kachelries, was looking to clinch the school’s all-time scoring record for the second straight game after failing against the T-Wolves.

Although Freedom kept it close throughout, even holding a slim lead in the third quarter, Emmaus was just too much in the end and used an 8-0 to end that quarter, and held on to take a 63-57 victory last Saturday night at Allen High School in the District 11 6A quarterfinal round.

“I have seniors that have character,” head coach Joe Stellato said. “When you lose seven games in a row and you don’t quit, you don’t give up, that’s why that room is filled with tears right now because they care so much. Hopefully the young guys see that and know what it takes.”

Three of those seniors led the team in scoring and overall output on both ends of the floor. Nick King and Jason Hall had team-highs of 19 points each, and Lewis Hargett tallied 12. There are six seniors overall, including Deshawn Polk, Tyler Muniz (5 points) and Justin Benton (2).

The Green Hornets led for all but a few minutes in the first half, and had a four-point advantage at 29-25 at halftime. That’s when Stellato switched things up to try and spark his team.

“We made a change and we went to five guards,” he said. “We had (Deshawn) Polk in the game, who we use as a center, and they weren’t even covering him offensively. They just kept (6-foot-8 center Zach) Sabol in the lane and then we couldn’t get anything inside going to the basket because he just sat there. We went to a five-guard lineup and that’s what changed things because it kind of pulled him out and that’s when things started to work for us.”

Trailing 29-16 midway through the second quarter, Freedom (12-11 overall) went on a 19-3 run that expanded into the third, also taking a 35-32 lead.

But Emmaus had a run of their own in them. After Hall hit a 3-pointer to give the Patriots the lead, Matt Kachelries nailed a three on the next play that set off a 13-2 run to put Emmaus ahead for good.

Freedom kept it close and made the Green Hornets work until the final whistle, but their season came to a close.

“I had no problems at all off the court this year,” Stellato said. “Everybody did what they were supposed to do, nobody was ever late to practice, nobody missed practice. It was just a fun year coaching these seniors because they did everything right. At the end, we just didn’t have enough talent.”

Liberty’s (12-11) season came to an end on Saturday, falling to Pocono Mountain West 76-68 in their playoff opener at Pleasant Valley.

Jalen Vaughns led the Panthers with 21 points, while Lance Singh added 20, and Isaiah Wiggins netted 17.

Jeremy Johnson scored a game-high 26 for the Hurricanes, who came back from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit to make it 64-63, but didn’t have enough to pull out the win.