Most freshmen athletes just hope to see the field at the varsity level. When given the opportunity, very few can make an immediate varsity impact. Especially in three different sports.
Not so for Emma Harris.
The Haddon Heights star freshman is making a name for herself as the Garnets’ leading scorer in basketball. She has amassed 287 total points through 19 games this season, an average of 15+ points per game. She’s hit four 3-pointers in a game four times, and currently stands at 44 total threes. She has quickly established herself as one of the most dominant players in the Colonial Conference, regardless of the “freshman” title she carries.
When trying to build a contending basketball program it’s critical to have a player such as Harris to help lay the foundation for success. No one knows that better than Haddon Heights coach Lauren Kendra. After rolling through the South Jersey Group 2 playoffs during the 2021-2022 season en route to the sectional championship, the Garnets slumped to 13-15 a year later. They’re looking to get that championship mojo back, and Kendra said she believes Harris is the first piece to the puzzle.
“Whenever you have a player like Emma Harris step on the floor, it elevates the game of every single person on your team immediately,” Kendra said. “What doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet is her willingness to be a two-way player. She is always tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best player and rises to that challenge every night. Further, Emma’s basketball IQ is exceptional for a freshman and every game I see her being more vocal and saying things like, ‘Hey, coach, maybe we should try this.’
“Emma is a program-changing player who has a bright future ahead of her. Even after a successful freshman campaign I know she won’t be satisfied and will push herself and our team to be better. Her growth from our first game until this point shows her maturity despite her age. She is willing to take on the ownership of her failures and learn from them to be better. I have challenged and pushed Emma, and every time she has responded. I am really looking forward to watching the evolution of Emma Harris — both as an individual and an athlete. She is the epitome of a student-athlete and we are lucky that she is a Garnet.”
Harris may be a stud when it comes to shooting hoops, but she also made her presence quickly known on the soccer field this past fall. She scored the very first goal of the season for the Garnets in a 6-2 win over Bordentown on Sept. 2, and finished the season with nine goals.
“Emma is an athlete who doesn’t settle for average — both in and out of the classroom,” said Haddon Heights soccer coach Ryan Yaniak. “She is constantly looking to be pushed and challenged to make herself better. She is a well-rounded athlete who is agile, physical, and composed. Her work ethic and effort are relentless, which is a testament to her mental toughness and overall drive to be successful.”
The soccer field isn’t the only field on which Harris excels. Harris said she plans to play lacrosse for the Garnets this spring and those coaches should anticipate her having the same type of success she’s enjoyed in two other sports.
“I have watched Emma play lacrosse for the last five years and even as a 4th-grader I knew she was going to be a force to be reckoned with,” said Kelly Ferrante, Haddon Heights’ girls lacrosse coach. “Her aggressiveness and competitiveness is what every coach dreams of in a player. I’m excited to see how she performs.”
After an impressive lacrosse middle school career — and seeing what Harris has accomplished in the fall and winter — what coach wouldn’t be excited to have her on the team?
Whether on the basketball court or the soccer and lacrosse fields, Harris’ mature and uplifting personality is what truly makes her succeed.
“Emma is a great person to talk to,” said senior Kylee Ferranto. “She got along with us (upperclassmen) pretty fast. She definitely has a lot of confidence and holds herself up to that.”
Those are kind words from the leading scorer on the Garnets’ soccer and lacrosse teams. Ferranto plays every sport with Harris.
Harris was quick to credit her teammates when asked about her own play in every sport: “I love playing three sports to make connections with my teammates,” she said. “I love the fact that we all help each other out, that really makes for success.”
Harris scored 17 points today in the Garnets’ 53-39 victory over Kingsway in the SJIBT Showcase at Eastern Regional High. Haddon Heights — winners of four straight and six of its last seven —improved to 11-8 and is currently the No. 7 seed in the upcoming South Jersey Group 2 playoffs. Much of that credit goes to Harris, who is averaging a team-leading 15 points per game and has knocked down 44 threes this season.
“We all contributed to the win today, and everyone played their part,” Harris said. “I love the environment at Heights because everyone is super nice. You can really be yourself and nobody’s there to judge.”
Brian Tortella is a correspondent for South Jersey Glory Days. Follow him on Twitter @tortreports
Sully, as he’s known throughout South Jersey, began his newspaper career in 1995 and has worked for some of New Jersey’s top papers, including The Asbury Park Press and Press of Atlantic City, as a writer and editor. He’s earned several New Jersey Press Association awards and continues to produce high quality reporting, writing and photography.
A native of Ocean County, Sully played high school baseball at Lacey Township High and college baseball at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina. After a successful 15-year career in the newspaper business, Sully launched Glory Days Magazine in 2013 and for nearly a decade has been bringing fans outstanding and insightful coverage of high school sports throughout South Jersey.