The Emmaus Eagles took on Ozark Christian on the home court on January 16. Ozark's team is currently ranked #6 in the NCCAA division 2. Knowing this would be a quality opponent, the coaches stressed execution and discipline as the keys to competing in the game.
Emmaus stayed close in the early goings but missed shots and another game of lights-out shooting from their opponent saw Ozark start to pull away in the first half. Emmaus cut the lead to 6 with about four minutes remaining but foul trouble forced a defensive assignment change. Ozark was able to knock down three wide open 3-pointers to push the lead to 16 going into the half.
Recognizing the effort and the situation for what it was, Coach Wilkerson stressed staying the course and allowing the game to even out. He told the team that he was looking for the guys who would stay disciplined and execute the game plan and that those would be the guys he would play.
Starting off the second half, several guys did not heed Coach Wilkerson's warning and were pulled early after playing outside the system. Several subs, including Mitchell Patzka and Angelo Lott, came in and gave the Eagles valuable minutes. At a timeout with a little under 10 minutes to play, Coach Wilkerson said he didn't care if they won the game but they needed to win the half and show the fight that they had shown the previous night. The Eagles went out and responded. Nathaniel Glidewell continued his recent tear, posting a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. With Caleb Ruter leading the charge with the scoring at 24 and Skyler Sandry showing the leadership and patience with 6 assists, the Eagles slowly climbed back in the game and cut the lead to under double digits. However, the clock was not on their side and Emmaus was forced to foul several times and would go on to lose 79-69.
Though it was not a win, Coach Wilkerson was encouraged by what he saw in the second half. Not only did Emmaus win the second half by 6 points, they showed Ozark and themselves the type of team they could be if they were disciplined on every possession. They held Ozark to 25% shooting in the second half and if it wasn't for them almost going perfect from the foul line (13-14), the game could have had a different ending.
The Eagles look to start up another winning streak as they take on Moody Bible College, Tuesday at 7:30 in Chicago. They will follow that up with two conference matches against CCCB and St. Louis Christian during the weekend.