By Sam Wilson

The new-look Ellicottville boys basketball team got its first taste of league play Friday night, and after a shaky start looked ready to compete for a fourth straight CCAA East II title this season.

The Eagles fell behind 9-0 in the game’s first four minutes to rival Franklinville and trailed by as much as 12 (19-7) in the first half. But Ellicottville would not allow the Panthers to break 25 points until the start of the fourth quarter, riding an 18-5 run into halftime and adding to it with a 21-0 third quarter. The flash of dominance gave Ellicottville more than enough to roll to a 51-35 victory.

Ellicottville switched out of its man-to-man defense into a zone after two started picked up their second fouls in the first quarter, and coach Dave McCann credited better “team” play for his Eagles’ dramatic swing.

“In the first quarter we were forcing a lot of shots and I think really from the end of the first quarter, start of the second quarter, on, we really started playing better team basketball,” McCann said.

Ellicottville held a 38-26 rebounding advantage, led by sophomores Wyatt Chudy (12 boards) and sophomore Clayton Rowland (8) and senior Steven Rowland (11). Of those 38, 12 were offensive boards leading to extra scoring opportunities.

“They did a great job on the boards, both offensively and defensively: Wyatt with four offensive rebounds, Steven with five,” McCann said. “They just kept plays a live. There were a couple times, especially in the fourth quarter, that Wyatt kept plays alive on shots we may have missed and drew a foul even one time. He played a heck of a ballgame.”

Chudy led the Eagles with 13 points, while the Rowland brothers both reached double figures (Clayton with 11, Steven with 10). Clayton Rowland added three assists and two steals.

Freshman Logan Grinols made a splash off the bench, draining three three-pointers, two of them in the pivotal second quarter before Ellicottville took a 25-24 advantage into the locker room.

“We had quite a few different guys score a lot of points,” McCann said. “We had some key contributions off the bench, Logan Grinols coming in and sticking a couple of shots in the second quarter really got us going. And that really picked up our energy level and once we picked up our energy level, I thought we were a lot different team.”

Grinols started the season on the junior varsity, but knew his number would eventually be called by the varsity squad.

“We had a talk at the beginning of the season, fully knowing that when it came down to this time of year, he’d be up with us,” McCann said. “I think he got a lot of valuable experience down on the JV in the first half (of the season). He’s a capable shooter and he plays hard and he plays smart. He’s a good ballplayer.”

Freshman Josh Haskell led Franklinville (2-7) with 16 points, seven of them in the Panthers’ hot start in the first quarter.

The Eagles have won three straight Chautauqua-Cattaraugus East Div. II titles, sharing the last two as co-champion with Franklinville as both finished 9-1 in league play in both seasons. Both squads lost the overwhelming majority of their offensive production to the 2018 graduation of former Big 30 All-Stars like Franklinville’s Sam Erickson, Darren Clark and Isaac Kopp and Ellicottville’s Elliot Bowen and Griffin Chudy.

But with the comeback Friday night, McCann hopes his team of mostly sophomores and juniors gained some confidence entering another league campaign.

“They were pretty excited after the game,” McCann said. “It’s been a back-and-forth season. It seems like we win one, we lose one, we win one, we lose one, so now we’re hoping we’re getting to a point in our schedule where we can hopefully string a few wins together in a row.”

Also in ECS boys basketball action:

Entering this week, the Ellicottville boys basketball team had followed a strict lose-win pattern through the first 10 games of the season. 

It lost, won, lost, won, until its record sat at 5-5.

On Tuesday, it was finally able to put together its first winning streak of the year.

Leif Jimerson totaled 19 points and five assists as the Eagles held off Forestville for a 54-47 triumph in a CCAA East II matchup. 

Steve Rowland posted 16 points and eight rebounds and Clayton added five boards and six steals for the Eagles (6-5), who have won two in a row following a 51-35 victory over Franklinville on Friday. 

Ellicottville jumped out to a 15-8 lead and had a 27-15 advantage at halftime, but had to hang on after Forestville cut the deficit to one with two minutes remaining. 

“We dug ourselves a hole in the first half,” Forestville coach Ralph Jackson acknowledged. “You can’t do that against a good team like Ellicottville.”

After the Panthers cut it to one, he noted, “Clayton Rowland hit a 3 from the wing to make it a four-point game and we turned the ball over twice in the next few minutes. We had to start fouling, and that was kind of it.”

 Luke Szumigala had a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Hornets (5-4).

Franklinville (35)

B. Frank 2 0-0 5, Haskell 6 3-3 16, L. Frank 2 3-8 7, Helgas 1 0-0 2, Torpey 0 1-3 1, Wolfer 2 0-1 4. Totals: 13 7-15 35.

Ellicottville (51)

Jimerson 2 0-0 4, C. Rowland 5 1-2 11, S. Rowland 5 0-4, 10, W. Chudy 5 3-5 13, J. Grinols 2 0-0 4, L. Grinols 3 0-0 9. Totals: 22 4-11 51.

Franklinville 18 24 24 35

Ellicottville 7 25 46 51

Three-point goals: Franklinville 2 (B. Frank, Haskell), Ellicottville 3 (L. Grinols 3). Total fouls: Franklinville 10, Ellicottville 13. Fouled out: None.

JV: Ellicottville won.