By Shawn Campbell

Special to the Times

To pull off a rare sweep in one of the Big 30’s fiercest boys basketball rivalries, all Ellicottville had to do was think back to its first meeting with Franklinville. 

In the Eagles’ 51-35 win on Jan. 4, they overcame a 9-0 deficit. On Thursday, Jan. 24, they faced a 7-0 hole when coach Dave McCann called a timeout nearly three minutes in.

“I actually said that to them in the first timeout — we’ve been here before, settle down,” McCann said. “I think sometimes with the emotion of the game they come out a little too excited, a little too jacked up. Once they settle in and play basketball, they find their rhythm a little bit.”

Once Ellicottville took the lead, it never lost control, picking up a key 59-52 win.

The victory has the Eagles (9-6, 6-0) well-positioned for a fourth straight CCAA East II title, but it would be the first championship in three years not shared with Franklinville (6-8, 4-2). The teams had split their league meetings the last five years. 

“Both young teams, but I thought we really battled tonight,” said McCann, whose Eagles, as with the Panthers, started three underclassmen. “We were down a starter, Clayton Rowland, who was out of town at the Pro Bowl playing in a flag football tournament, and I just thought the seven guys that played, each one of them, stepped up in a different way and really played a great game overall together. That’s a big win for us.”

Ellicottville sophomore Leif Jimerson thrived in transition and scored a game-high 25 points — 11 during the Eagles’ 19-4 run to end the first quarter.

“He anticipates real well,” McCann said. “He gets out on the break, and he was finishing tonight, which was good. He’s got a nice outside shot on the offense, but I think where he’s most dangerous is getting out in transition.”

Equally key to Ellicottville’s fast-break attack was junior Jordan Grinols.

“Jordan had seven assists for us tonight, and he made a couple of really nice full-court passes down to Leif for layups that really were big, right off of rebounds,” McCann said. “The kid had 12 rebounds — only scored three points, but 12 rebounds, seven assists. He really carried a big load tonight.”

Senior Steven Rowland added 14 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two blocks for the Eagles, while freshman Logan Grinols made four assists.

Franklinville had freshman Josh Haskell pour in 23 points and sophomore Logan Frank score 20, but the Panthers had a four-game win streak snapped. They shot only 29 percent (17-of-58).

“They were better than we were,” Franklinville coach Jeff Haskell said. “We didn’t make shots, what’d we have … 20, 24, 25 turnovers? You can’t turn the ball over like that. We were throwing it backwards against their zone. How many layups did we miss? Last Friday night we scored 85 points and we had 12 in-the-paint layups. Tonight we may have missed 12.

“It seemed like they got most of the loose balls … all the intangibles they got. They were better than us tonight, no doubt about it.”

Now the young Eagles own a two-game lead atop the standings.

“They’ve been successful all the way up through — in modified and up through JVs — so we know there’s some talent here,” McCann said. “It’s just getting them up to the varsity level and letting them see that they can be successful has been the biggest thing. Their confidence is growing by the week, and it’s really fun to watch. It’s a great group to be around because they’re all learning together.”

Ellicottville (59)

Jimerson 10 3-4 25, Logel 3 0-0 6, S. Rowland 4 2-4 14, W. Chudy 1 0-0 2, J. Grinols 0 3-6 3, L. Grinols 3 3-6 9. Totals: 21 13-18 59.

Franklinville (52)

B. Frank 1 0-0 3, Haskell 6 7-10 23, L. Frank 7 5-6 20, Peters 1 0-0 2, Wolfer 1 0-0 2, Mooney 1 0-0 2. Totals: 17 12-16 52. 

Ellicottville 19 30 45 59

Franklinville 11 23 36 52

  Three-point goals: Ellicottville 6 (S. Rowland 4, Jimerson 2); Franklinville 6 (Haskell 4, B. Frank, L. Frank). Total fouls: Ellicottville 12, Franklinville 16. Fouled out: W. Chudy.

JV: Ellicottville, 43-36.

Also in high school boys basketball action:

Ellicottville 59, Forestville 57

 Steven Rowland registered 22 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 19 seconds remaining, and grabbed 12 rebounds to lift Ellicottville on Monday night.

Leif Jimerson scored 20 points and both he and Rowland knocked down four 3-pointers for the Eagles (10-6). Trailing by one with 35 seconds remaining, Ellicottville missed on an initial attempt to take the lead and had to foul Forestville. The Hornets, though, missed the front end of a 1-and-1, setting up the stage for Rowland’s game-winner.

“He was open, he took it and it went in,” Ellicottville coach Dave McCann said.

Clayton Rowland added five assists and Wyatt Chudy hit a pair of insurance free throws in the waning seconds for the Eagles, who have won six of their last seven. After pulling out a seven-point win over Forestville earlier in the year, Ellicottville needed all 32 minutes to secure the season sweep.

“I thought from the six-minute point on in the fourth, the kids really battled hard to get this win,” McCann said. “I don’t think it was our best night, both offensively and defensively, but the kids showed a lot of heart.

“Forestville is a tough, scrappy team. It was back-and-forth. The kids stuck with it and were able to pull it out.”

Gavin Christian led the Hornets with 17 points.