Girls conclude season, look forward to the future
The girls basketball season ended last week as they traveled to Emmaus for a showdown with the Green Hornets.
The Hornets were seeking to avenge an earlier loss to the Zephyrs, while Whitehall was hoping to end its season on a positive note.
The first quarter set the tone as Emmaus sprinted out to a 18-9 lead. The Hornets maintained most of that cushion during the next period and went into the break with an eight point lead.
Whitehall came out in the second half with buckets a-blazing, scoring 17 points in the third quarter to cut into the Hornets lead. Once the buzzer sounded they were trailing by three points.
But the Hornets held on in the final quarter, outscoring Whitehall by a bucket to win 53-48.
Grace Clary poured in 19 points to lead the Zephs. The senior has consistently led the team in scoring this season and her final game in the maroon and gold was another testament to her versatility as a player.
The Zephs also got some solid play from Meghan Hutter who scored 10 points, while Isabella Fonzone scored eight. Olivia Hines finished the game with five points. Additionally, senior Cassie Due dropped in two as did fellow senior Kristin Laky.
The loss to their division foes closes the book on the 2019-20 season for Whitehall. They finished the year 6-16.
Head coach Josh Madas said that he felt that the team was competitive for the majority of the season. Often times their fate would be decided by a couple of plays or bounces that didn’t go their way which ultimately led them to losing those games.
“We felt like we were kind of close, but ultimately fell short,” said Madas.
All of the other teams from the Skyline Division of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference except Emmaus made the district playoffs, and playing in that division presents huge challenges. When they faced Nazareth for the second time, they were actually leading the game for most of the contest, faltering in the final quarter as the Blue Eagles pulled away for the win. It was those situations that formed a building block for that season and beyond.
“It’s just about learning from those losses and getting better from them,” said Madas.
He felt that after their loss to Liberty on Jan. 4 they struggled to gain momentum. However, down the stretch he was happy with how they played, noting they really battled some of those district-bound teams during that span.
“The girls fought hard,” he said.
With the year now behind them, they’ll now turn toward the future as they return 10 players.
While it’s a good foundation, the program lost an outstanding group of seniors who made significant contributions to the Whitehall girls basketball program. The Zephyrs will graduate: Clary, Due, Kathryn Kelly, Kristin Laky, Jaraye Jackson, Willycia Mbungira and Kathrynn Weller.
Madas said that his senior class was a phenomenal group. He said that it showed in their attitude, their work ethic, and how they interacted with the underclassmen.
“It’s all the things you want from your leaders,” said Madas. “To lose them is going to be tough. They were the glue that kept us together.”
He said that they are a special group of kids.
Clary’s departure will leave a big hole in their lineup. The senior averaged a tick under 14 points per game this season and was recently named to the EPC third team as an all-star. Her versatility allowed her to run the point at times, as well as settle down low and score inside.
Due is another player whose absence will leave a big void. She averaged 4.5 points this season and was their primary ballhandler, setting up their offense.
Kelly and Laky were also valuable players who got a lot of varsity minutes, and that tandem’s contributions will be something Madas will need to address as well. They also got support from reserves Jackson, Mbungira and Weller, all of whom lent leadership to the mix.
He said that it’s now a matter of challenging the underclassmen to “step up and fill those roles.”
Their summer schedule will offer an opportunity for those players to stake their claim to those minutes. They’ll also be buoyed by the return of Joey Shaul who will give them a solid presence inside, someone whose extremely good on the glass.
Madas said that they have big minutes to fill, as well as the leadership that group brought to the court. Still, he believes that the underclassmen learned at a quick pace this season and is optimistic about the future.
“We’re excited for what’s coming up next year,” said Madas.