Last week was interesting for Emmaus boys' basketball coach Tony Semler.
His team lost two games early in the week, then knocked off then No. 1-ranked and defending PIAA Class AAAA champion Harrisburg, 68-65, at the Lehigh Valley Hoop Festival.
The win stamps Emmaus, 20-3 going into Friday night, as a legitimate challenger for the District 11 title and the PIAA crown.
"That win proves we can compete with anybody and should help us down the line," Semler said. "[Harrisburg] beat us in the state playoffs last year, and we played then in the Stellar summer tournament in Allentown in July and lost again. I could tell our players were looking forward to the game."
May be best big man
One big reason Emmaus has to be considered a contender for the PIAA title is Aaron Gray. A 6-foot-11, 280-pound senior, Gray is arguably the best big man in the state and plans to attend Pitt. He is averaging 21 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks and 4 assists a game.
"The best things about Aaron are his hands and his work ethic," Semler said. "He has great hands and is an excellent passer, which is why I think he'll do well in Ben Howland's system at Pitt."
Emmaus' other starters are seniors Dan Wieder, who is 5-10; Adam Kaunitz, 6-3; Red O'Hara, 6-0; and sophomore Mike Brusko, 6-3. Sophomore Andrew Carpenter, 6-2, also sees considerable playing time.
Nobody other than Gray averages double figures, although Semler said Kaunitz and Brusko are around nine points per game, and Wieder is at seven points per game.
"You don't often get a player of Aaron's size and ability, so when you do, you take full advantage of it," Semler said. "Next year we'll be back to reality with a 6-3 or 6-4 guy at center."
Making a mark
High school basketball fans are used to seeing schools such as Kennedy Catholic, Bishop Hannan, Scotland School and Monessen at the top of the Class A rankings.
But Galeton? Where the heck is Galeton?
Galeton is the No. 1-ranked Class A boys team by the Harrisburg Patriot-News this week. It is located in Tioga County north of Williamsport, about 30 miles south of the New York border.
The Tigers compete in the Northern Tier League's West Division and are 20-1 after winning their first 20 games this season.
"I didn't really know we were No. 1 until somebody told me," Galeton coach John Garman said. "That's nice and all, but then we go out and lose at North Penn in overtime. But it's good for the program and the community to receive some attention, even if it's for only a week."
Junior point guard Drew Karschner, who is 5-7 and averaging 20 points per game, and 6-0 senior Mike Proctor, who is averaging 17 points a game, lead Galeton.
Other starters are 6-5 senior Tim Geiser, who averages 10 points a game, 6-1 sophomore Joel Dickinson and 5-10 junior Kyle Lehman.
"The reason for our success has been our defense," said Garman. "We play pressure defense and we're pretty quick."
This year's 20-game winning streak is not a school record. Galeton's 1985-86 team won 25 in a row.