By Indrek Kongats

During the holiday break, the boys’ Varsity basketball team played in a tournament at Jamestown Community College against some stiff competition in the four-team tourney. Taking part were our own Ellicottville Eagles (6-2), Sherman Wildcats (4-1), Randolph Cardinals (6-3) and Maple Grove Red Dragons (2-6).

The Eagles first matchup was against Sherman. In the close fought battle, Ellicottville squeezed out a win, 62-58, led by Elliot Bowen’s double double, 19 points and 16 rebounds; Bowen also added seven blocks to his game stats. Austin Grinols added 15 points for the victory and dished out seven assists. Steven Rowland, Deric Leiper and Griffin Chudy added their share of points:10, 10 and seven, respectively. The top scorer for Sherman and high scorer in the contest was Chris Robson with 27 points. Ellicottville won the game by winning the battle of the boards, out rebounding Sherman 38-17.

In the other first round action, Randolph advanced over Maple Grove, leading up to a rematch for the championship game between the Eagles and Cardinals. Ellicottville won the first game between these two schools back in early December by a slim margin of 52-49. Unfortunately, the outcome of the championship game was in favor of the Randolph Cardinals this time, 49-46. These two evenly-matched teams provided some pretty exciting basketball action. The Cardinals game plan was to stop the Eagles’ Elliot Bowen and they did so successfully, allowing him to score a season low of only four points, well below his average of close to 20 points per game. Bowen did, however, continue to dominate on the boards, grabbing 11 for his team. Austin Grinols led the way for the Eagles with 18 points, followed by Deric Leiper with 12 points. Jarrett Lecceadone and young Tyler Hind were the leaders for Randolph, averaging 12 and 15 points per game, respectively. Lecceadone also averages 12 rebounds and two steals per game.

The Varsity boys’ next two home games are this Friday, Jan. 6 against the Pine Valley Panthers, also 6-2 on the season, and North Collins Eagles (2-6) on Tuesday, Jan. 10. Game times are both at 7:30 p.m. The game against Pine Valley will prove to be another exciting match up for the Eagles. Players to keep an eye on for the Panthers are Zach Mansfield leading the team with 18 points per game, and Gilberto Ortiz with 12 rebounds per game.

Varsity Girls action has the Lady Eagles playing at home on Thursday, Jan.12, game time is 7:30 p.m. against the Franklinville Panthers, also 6-0 in the first part of their season. This will be an exciting match up for the girls’ team to see who will be sitting on top of the Class D league. Marrissa Hamilton continues averaging double doubles, while Franklinville’s dynamic duo, the Haskell sisters, Allyson and Danielle, average 17 and 24 points per game, respectively.

In NCAA Division 1 basketball, St. Bonaventure’s men’s basketball team notched another win under their belts with a decisive 89-77 victory over UMass. The 9-4 Bonnies play this Saturday, Jan. 7 on their home court against conference rival George Mason. Game time is 5 p.m. at the Reilly Center. In Atlantic 10 conference play, St. Bonaventure is 1-0 for the men, while the women’s team is 1-1.

The 6-8 Lady Bonnies will not play at home for a while, going on a grueling road swing first to Virginia to take on the Richmond Spiders on Jan. 7, and then all the way to St. Louis, MO to take on the St. Louis University Billikens in a nationally-televised game to be aired on NBCSN Jan. 11 at 12 p.m. In their final game of 2016, Randolph high school hoopster Mckenna Maycock played 31 minutes off the bench in a squeaker, losing to George Mason 52-49. Maycock grabbed 10 rebounds and added four points.

In NCAA Division III basketball, the Hilbert Hawks return to action trying to increase their league record to 4-3, playing at home on Jan. 7 against the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Game time is at 3 p.m. at the Hafner Recreation Center in Hamburg, NY. Panama High School star Josh Eddy will be looking to improve upon his four points and four rebounds performance from his last contest against Franciscan University back before the holiday break.

Shannon Rodgers from Pioneer High School will lead the Lady Hawks, who are also looking to increase their AMCC standings to 4-3 against Pitt-Greensburg on Saturday, Jan. 7 in the first game of the double header starting at 1 p.m.

Player development tip this week is to improve your free throw shooting by practicing rhythm shooting. This drill requires at least two players— one shooting while the other is rebounding and feeding the shooter. The goal is to establish a rhythm in your shooting by releasing the shot as quickly as the ball is being fed into your hands. Have your hands in the ready position and without any other motion, go straight into your shot. See how many consecutive free throws you can make before missing. After a miss, the players switch. Continue shooting until you get tired. The idea is to be able to shoot 30-50 consecutive free throws in as little time as possible. What you are really doing is ingraining a repetitive mechanical motion and routine into your free throws so that it becomes natural. In critical game winning situations, you can be confident that your shot will go in.