By Sam Wilson
So far, the Ellicottville boys basketball team looks like the team to beat again in the CCAA Div. II East.
The Eagles moved to 5-0 in league play, beating each of their East II rivals once, by fending off North Collins 57-34 on Jan. 24. Coach Dave McCann’s team has won at least a share of the league title four consecutive years and hasn’t lost in East II play in more than two years, dating back to the 2017-18 season.
After trailing 10-6 with less than two minutes to play in the first quarter, Ellicottville shook off its slow start and dominated the rest of the half to take a 34-16 lead, including an extended 21-1 run.
“We talk about it quite a bit, that we know we’re going to get everyone’s best game in the league,” McCann said of avoiding a letdown so far in league play. “After the success that we’ve had and these guys have been successful all the way up through, we know we can’t take nights off and for us, with the way our playoff bracket’s shaking out, there’s a lot of good teams in the C2. We talk all the time about the importance of taking care of business, especially on our home court, winning these games that we have to win in the league or else we might be on the road for the first round of the playoffs.”
Leif Jimerson paced the victors with 18 points, four assists and four steals. Clayton Rowland added a near-double-double with nine points, 10 rebounds and four steals, while Nik Logel grabbed nine boards and Logan Grinols and Wyatt Chudy had four steals each.
McCann said success on the other end of the court helped fuel his team’s offense.
“Defense and rebounding,” he said. “Ten of their 12 first-quarter points were all off second chances. The second quarter they only had one offensive rebound. We did a better job of being more disciplined on defense and not reaching and getting out of position, which led to some turnovers and got us out in transition again. When we can run the floor, when we get out in transition and run the floor we can be pretty good. I thought that was what kind of turned it around for us, our defense and rebounding.”
Ellicottville shot 22-for-67 from the field (32.8%) and 3-for-18 (16.7%) from three-point range Friday. The Eagles have scored 60 or more points just three times in their first 13 games, but they haven’t had to play in many shootouts this season.
“We’re not told not to shoot the three, we’ll take it if it’s open, but I think sometimes teams start to settle for threes,” McCann said. “I think we were settling a little bit in the first quarter. But when we attack, we’re much better, much more efficient on offense, and these guys do a good job of finding each other when they do drive and find the open guy, making the extra pass leads to a layup a lot of times. We just try to teach team basketball, keep the floor spread and find those openings.”
For North Collins (5-8, 3-2), Chris Smith marked 12 points and 10 rebounds while Tyler Robinson had team-highs with 14 boards and six blocks.
Up next, Ellicottville faces one of its biggest tests of the season, a visit to defending C2 champion Randolph (10-1) on Tuesday.
“We have a big game Tuesday,” McCann said. “I just want to see us come out and compete and play four quarters. I think we struggle to do that sometimes. We can look great for a four or five-minute stretch and then we go on kind of a cold spell or we go on a spell where we turn the ball over a lot or something bad happens. I just want to see a consistent 32 minutes.”
North Collins (34)
Loretto 1 1-2 3, Robinson 3 0-4 6, Sweet 3 0-0 8, Smith 6 0-0 12, Fricano 2 1-2 5. Totals: 15 2-8 34.
Jimerson 8 0-0 18, Dekay 1 0-0 2, L. Grinols 2 2-2 7, Logel 2 0-0 4, Rowland 3 3-7 9, Hutchinson 1 0-0 2, Chudy 2 1-2 5, J. Grinols 1 1-3 4, Newark 2 3-5 7. Totals: 22 10-20 57.
North Collins 12 16 30 34
Ellicottville 15 34 48 57
Three-point goals: NC 2 (Sweet 2); E’ville 3 (Jimerson 2, Grinols). Total fouls: NC 15, E’ville 11. Fouled out: None.
JV: Ellicottville won.