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Zephs fall to K-Kids and Freedom

Friday, January 12, 2018 by Steve andres Special to the Press in Sports

It was a tale of two halves for the Whitehall boys basketball team who experienced a healthy dose of Northampton’s Aidan Ellwood in the second half as the Zephyrs fell to the Kids on Tuesday night.

After taking a 30-29 lead into the intermission, a half in which they moved the ball around, found the open man, made their shots, including a number of threes, it seemed they found the right formula for success. That was the message at halftime when head coach Jeff Jones talked to his team.

“I said to the kids, ‘If you would have told me that we would have come in here with 30 points at halftime playing against the match [zone], what they play, and the problems we’ve had versus zone teams this year, I probably would have told you I’d be ecstatic,’ and I was ecstatic,” said Jones. “I thought we played really well.”

They began the game with Kevin Virgo sinking a few buckets, while Dylan McGinley and Joe Herman also struck from the field as the two teams traded the lead throughout the first quarter. In the second, Tyler Holubowski made field goals on three consecutive trips down the floor, his final bucket a pretty baseline spin move to free himself up for two.

The Kids and Zephs then went back and forth, with Whitehall clinging to that one-point lead at the break.

But after an Ellwood steal and layup, to put the Kids up 39-37, the Zephyrs didn’t score again until the 6:08 mark of the fourth when Dylan McGinley sank a bucket to make it 39-50. And while the Whitehall offense was stagnating, Ellwood was exploding, scoring 14 points in the third quarter, finishing with 31 to help the Kids win 63-43.

The loss drops the Zephyrs to 3-8 overall and 1-5 within the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.

The Zephyrs were outscored 26-9 after being knotted at 37-37 early in the third quarter. Jones said he couldn’t pinpoint a reason why that happened.

“I thought we continued to play hard,” said Jones. “Shots didn’t go in for us, and they had a little too much Ellwood, for one.”

Ellwood demonstrated why he’s one of the best players in the league. The senior’s averaging a little over 20 ppg. this season, and he’s a tough draw defensively because of his constant movement. He works well off the curl and can spot up for the effortless three. He’s also a deft passer who more than once drew two defenders toward him when he drove into the lane Tuesday night. That allowed him to find teammates for easy layups inside.

“He shoots perimeter, he creates for other guys, and he can get to the basket,” said Jones. “He’s a really good player. Kudos to him and the whole team.”

In one stretch between the third and fourth periods, he scored all of his team points, scoring 10 consecutive points over a four-minute span.

While the Zephyrs struggled to get in sync in the second half, they had all the ingredients working in the first. That’s why Jones said it didn’t come down to one thing in those final 16 minutes, but a bunch of things that led to their demise. He said it doesn’t dampen their outlook for the rest of the season.

“Our kids continue, and it’s a credit to them, we’re 3-8 right now, and they continue to compete really hard, and they continue to listen, and they’re pretty coachable, and they’ve tried to do the right thing, and we don’t always execute it perfectly, but they’re doing the right thing,” said Jones.

McGinley led all Whitehall scorers with 10 points, while Holubowski and Virgo finished with 8. Herman added six for the Zephs, while Ethan Pavel knocked in five and Jake Lisicky finished with four.

In their game against Freedom, a squeaker which they lost 50-49 to the Pates, Jones said that they led for 30 of the 32 minutes.

“It came down to the end and we had too many turnovers, we had 25 turnovers for the game, just too many turnovers,” said Jones.

In that game, Herman led the way with 18 points, while Virgo and Parvel each had eight, and Holubowski and McGinley finished with five apiece.