Eagles Come Close but Fall in Overtime Heartbreaker

On Tuesday, January 19, the Emmaus Eagles faced off against Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. The trip started out with the bus breaking down 40 minutes outside of Dubuque. Having to wait over an hour to get a rental vehicle to transport them, the Eagles showed up about 40 minutes before tip off. Already without their third leading scorer, Nathaniel Glidewell, due to personal matters, the coaches knew the energy would be low and that Emmaus would need to find some extra motivation early on.

Not having Glidewell was evident from the start as the Eagles would struggle without his length and mobility, especially on the defensive end. Though they were playing hard, the discipline and execution was not there on every possession and Moody got off to an early lead. As shots started to fall and the offense was out of rhythm, Moody would go into the locker room up 10.

As in the previous game against Ozark, Coach Wilkerson praised the effort but questioned the discipline and challenged the guys to put away all selfish play and focus on team basketball. "In my mind and Coach Joel's mind, we were just as good as Moody," Coach Wilkerson explained. "However, the guys still struggle to find the consistency needed to put together a complete game."

There was one player, however, who was playing out of his mind. Caleb Ruter was feeling it from the start and would finish the game with a game high 37 points while shooting 56% from the field, including 8-14 from the 3 point line. Many of these shots were contributed to by Skyler Sandry, who led the team with 8 assists. However, the rest of the Eagles struggled, managing just 15-41 from the field.

Again, however, as in the previous game against Ozark, Emmaus would come out focused and disciplined and slowly chipped away at the lead. As the lead continued to dwindle, both Caleb Postma and Matthew Tomlinson hit crucial shots late, including Tomlinson tying the game at 70 with a little more than a minute to go.

During the ensuing timeout, Coach Wilkerson told the team to give it everything they had for the last defensive possession and once they got a stop, they were to come down court and call a timeout to set up a last shot. The Eagles did just that and Emmaus was in possession with the ball tied and being able to run a play to try and seal the game.

Coming out of the timeout, the Eagles worked some time off of the clock and ran the play to perfection, getting a wide open shot for Skyler Sandry. However, it did not go in but Emmaus was able to secure the ball and get one last chance in regulation. The youth of the team showed itself, again, as miscommunication caused the Eagles to not get the ball in the right person's hands and they were not able to get up a shot before the buzzer blew.

Before the overtime period started, Coach Wilkerson stressed that the momentum was on the Eagles' side and to go out there and play smart offense and solid defense. Nathan Davidson won the tip and Caleb Postma came down and knocked down a 3 pointer to give Emmaus the lead. On the defensive end, they were able to get a stop but coming down on the offensive end, they were unable to add to the lead. It went back and forth throughout the overtime period and Emmaus found themselves in a similar position, this time down 1 with about 40 seconds to go. Again, miscommunication caused a member of the Eagles to run the wrong play and Emmaus was again not able to get up a shot, instead, turning the ball over. Forced to foul, Moody would make only one of the free throws and Emmaus had one more shot. Unfortunately, Caleb Ruter was not able to continue the magic that he had shown all game and missed the last shot, which again forced Emmaus to foul. Both free throws were made and Emmaus would fall in a heartbreaker 80-76.

In the locker room, Coach Wilkerson told the guys not to hang their heads. They had a lot going against them heading into the game but they had showed resilience and grit in their comeback. He stressed that if they could find a way to compete in first halves the way they play in most second halves, they would be a hard team to beat. Knowing they would see Moody again in nine days, this time on the Eagles' home court, Coach Wilkerson encouraged the guys to regroup and continue to work on being disciplined on every possession.

Emmaus plays next in Missouri as they travel to play Central Christian College of the Bible on Friday, followed by St. Louis Christian College on Saturday.