On Tuesday, the men's basketball team traveled to Deerfield, IL to face off against Trinity International. Having won against their JV team the previous two years, Coach Wilkerson felt that playing the varsity was the next step for the program. "I scheduled this game because I am confident of where our team is and where it can go. If we can play with a team like this, we should do really well in our conference."
With the game underway, it looked like Emmaus was up for the challenge. The Eagles' solid defensive rotation and good ball movement forced Trinity to sub almost immediately, followed soon after by a timeout as Emmaus started with a 12-6 advantage.
As quickly as the lead was established, it was taken away due to weak passes and late rotations. Starters Nathan Davidson and Nathaniel Glidewell, having done a good job early on the defensive end, picked up a couple of early fouls. Once they took a seat, the bigs of Trinity took over and the Eagles found themselves scrambling to find an answer. After the early lead, Emmaus was outscored 55-23 for the rest of the half.
At halftime, the coaches addressed where the problems lie: Turnovers and handling ball pressure. "We had 13 turnovers at half, most of them in play, which contributed to a lot of the deficit," Coach Wilkerson explained. "Give Trinity credit; they are a good team. But our guys need to be able to recognize pressure and attack it, rather than shy away from it." The bright spot from the first half was a shooting percentage of above 50 percent, sparked by the continued consistency of senior Skyler Sandry and the re-emergence of sophomore Matthew Tomlinson's shot.
In the second half, Trinity switched to a 1-3-1 zone which Emmaus was able to find gaps in and get a lot of solid looks. However, the continued laziness of passes would kill any momentum the Eagles would start to get. Emmaus put up a fight but this along with missed defensive rotations would eventually have them fall by the score of 109-72.
Despite this, coach Wilkerson was encouraged. "We had a great shooting night as a team with some guys finding their touch (Tomlinson and senior Caleb Ruter) and Clay coming in and knocking down some big shots (3-4 threes). The team really responded to our challenge of what to work on from last weekend and now we have some more things to challenge them with going forward. The inexperience of our team really showed tonight but the talent we have did as well. We play these games to prepare the team for conference play and I believe we are heading in the right direction."
Emmaus heads to Minnesota on Friday to play AFLBS followed by a trip to the Chicago area on Saturday to face off against Judson University. The Eagles hope to have point guard Cody Nicely back to full strength after having him in limited minutes on Tuesday.