After a basket from senior Kayden Walschburger, the Whitehall boys basketball team held a 50-43 lead over East Stroudsburg North with 4:50 left in the teams' District 11 Class 5A quarterfinal on Thursday night at William Allen High School.
But things went south for the Zephyrs from there. In fact, Whitehall didn't score a point in the final 4:50 of the game.
East Stroudsburg North had the game's final nine points, including the go-ahead basket by senior Devontea Wiggins with 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter, to roar back for a 52-50 win over Whitehall.
The Zephyrs' season ended with a 16-8 record.
"It comes down to five or six plays in those last minutes that we did not execute. It's unfortunate," Whitehall coach Jeff Jones said.
Whitehall turned the ball over in its final two possessions of the fourth quarter.
"We made mistakes in the last minutes. There's no question about it. Give credit to them. They forced us into those mistakes and they capitalized on those mistakes. We had some opportunities. We just didn't capitalize," Jones said.
The Zephyrs lost five of their final six games of the season with three of them being decided by five points or less. Finishing off games was a problem for Whitehall all season and it came back to haunt the Zephyrs in the district playoffs.
"Disappointed for the kids. We played hard all season. We had some unbelievable games. A lot of close games we didn't finish very well. That was one of the last things we put on the blackboard before we went out. We have to finish quarters. We have to finish the game," Jones said. "One of our concerns all year was our half-court offense. It kind of bit us a little bit. With three and a half minutes left, we're up seven, I believe. We didn't score another point. If they foul us, we're going to the foul line. We didn't draw fouls. They made shots. They made plays."
Whitehall beat East Stroudsburg North 77-68 on Dec. 28. But the Timberwolves have really improved since then, winning three of their last four games, including a victory over top-seeded Emmaus in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference quarterfinals.
"This is a talented, athletic team. There's no question about it. They showed that to Emmaus. They showed that to Bethlehem Catholic (a 60-58 loss in EPC semifinals)," Jones said about the team that will play Central Catholic in Monday's semifinals. "We knew we were going to be in for a hell of a fight. It was a really good basketball game from a fan perspective. It wasn't a very clean game. That's for sure. You're off for two weeks, I kind of expected that a little bit."
Whitehall senior Logan McGinley scored 11 points. Walschburger had nine points and junior Mikey Esquilin added eight for the Zephyrs.
Jackson Buskirk, Zach Gilbert, Kasai Harrison, Devin Martinez and Eric Johnson also finished their Whitehall basketball careers.
"Seniors mean everything. Every year that's the hardest part because you're saying goodbye to your season, but you're saying goodbye to the seven seniors that have been part of the program for the last four years. That's disappointing because I know these guys wanted more, evidenced by their emotions here in the locker room after the game. They're really disappointed," Jones said.
Josh Folck may be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JoshFolck. Find Lehigh Valley high school sports on Facebook.
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