Boys will fall short of playoff berth
The Whitehall boys basketball team ran into another northern buzzsaw when East Stroudsburg South blew into Zephyr Gymnasium last Friday.
The Cavaliers, following in the fleet footsteps of Pocono Mountain West who also reside in the Mountain Division of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, used their quickness and athleticism to keep Whitehall’s offense under wraps for most of the game, earning a 66-39 victory.
The loss put the Zephs at 5-12 on the season and officially eliminated them from the postseason.
Back on Jan. 12, the Panthers roared into Whitehall and prevented the Zephyrs from getting into a consistent offensive flow, cutting off passing lanes and denying them good looks at the basket. On Friday, the Cavaliers followed the same script, while also adding some ball pressure and trapping that kept Whitehall from mounting a consistent attack.
“They’re extremely athletic,” said head coach Jeff Jones. “We were zone in the beginning and they hit perimeter shots. Eck’s [South guard, Greg] really good, and [Jeremiah] Anderson is really good off the dribble. It was 8-0 before we even blinked.”
Jones said that he warned his team that South would come out and execute certain plays, and that’s exactly what happened, what “they feared” would happen.
That prompted a defensive change as they went to a triangle-and-two like they did against Northampton in trying to stop Aidan Ellwood and Cory Weisenberger.
“That didn’t work,” said Jones. “Then we went man-to-man, and finished out the game playing man-to-man.”
Jones said that they haven’t played a lot of man-to-man defense all year, and conceded it was a tough task against a very athletic team.
His hand was forced because Eck, who finished with 26 points, proved to be a zone buster as soon as the game started. His efficiency beyond the stripe (at one stretch in the third quarter he hit three consecutive threes), was complemented by Anderson’s ability to drive to the bucket and score, finishing with 13 points.
The Cavaliers are currently 15-2, their two losses coming against Nazareth and Pocono Mountain West. They also have a deep roster, allowing them to rotate 10 players throughout the game. Jones said that their quickness out front makes them unique, while their ability to hit the pullup jumper as well as finish under the rim, makes them a tough team to handle. He believes that they’ll contend for a league and district title.
“They’re that good,” he said.
While South’s pressure caused some turnovers, Jones also said that they didn’t run their offense as he hoped.
“We didn’t run our sets through very long,” said Jones. “We were able to break their pressure, and once we got it over half court, we still seemed rushed. You can’t play that way. We have to play at a slower pace.”
Conversely, East Stroudsburg South feeds off that pace, averaging a little over 61 points per game. Jones said that his team doesn’t have the ability to do that.
They have the ability to remain competitive and they got some strong play from Dylan McGinley who worked tirelessly around the basket on both ends of the floor. He showed some nice inside moves, spinning away from his defender and using the glass for points in the paint. He can still step out and drain the jumper. McKinley finished with 13 points to lead the Zephs.
Junior Joe Herman is also able to knock down shots from behind the stripe and did so against the Cavaliers, finishing with 11 points.
Jake Lisicky once again kept battling inside, grabbing rebounds against taller opponents.
The Zephs have four games remaining on their schedule. Jones said that the kids have remained positive and believes that will continue over the next two weeks.
“Now, when you realize that the season ends on February 7, no matter if you win all your games, or not, and now we’ll see who really wants to be here,” said Jones. “We told them we’re going to continue to coach as hard as we have all year, we’re going to continue trying to prepare them, and do what we can to win every single game that we play. I just asked them to give the same kind of effort, and I think that they will.”