By Indrek Kongats

The bubble finally broke when the Ellicottville girls’ Varsity basketball team’s hope for a perfect season was squashed by the Franklinville Panthers last week. Both teams now have identical 9-1 records, but the advantage will go to the Panthers with their 50-34 win over the Eagles.

This much-anticipated matchup looked like it wasn’t going to disappoint the fans as the teams sized each other up in the first half. Having held the lead throughout the first half, the Panthers took a slim two- point lead to the locker room, 20-22.

It wasn’t until the mid-point of the third quarter that the Eagles finally took the lead and looked like a 9-0 team, 26-25. Unfortunately, the lead was distinguished by the ever hot shooting from Panther’s freshman guard Danielle Haskell. Haskell led all scorers with 24 points, hitting long range threes, looking more like an NBA player than someone in the 9th grade.

To be fair to the Eagles, many questionable foul calls took the steam out of their attack and gave momentum to the Panthers. In the last three minutes of the 3rd, Franklinville went on a terror, blowing the shocked girls from Ellicottville right out of their own gym and in front of a packed house, 26-37. Marrissa Hamilton’s frustration was growing and very visible on her face, but couldn’t rally her team to stop the Panthers. Her normally hot three-point shooting and dominant rebounding was nowhere to be seen and Evelyn Cortez was in deep foul trouble early on in the game. The only player that played well for Ellicottville was senior and co-captain Emmalea Erlandson, but one player does not make a team.

The final quarter didn’t see any improvement as the lead grew steadily for Franklinville, burying Ellicottville by 16 points, a winning margin more common to the Eagles, who average 27 points over their opponents. Although the loss was a major blow to the Lady Eagles’ ego, they quickly bounced back to their winning ways as they clobbered Catt/Little Valley Timberwolves by 40 points this past Tuesday night, winning 70-30. The re-match with Franklinville will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 7 at Franklinville; tip-off time will be 7:30 p.m.

The Eagles’ next home game will be a tough one as they host the 9-1 Pine Valley Panthers this Friday night Jan. 20; game time 7:30 p.m. (FYI, Pine Valley’s only loss was also at the hands of Franklinville, losing by 31 points, 36-67, this past Tuesday night at Franklinville. This should be a very interesting game!)

The boys’ Varsity Eagles will host Franklinville in their next home game on Monday, Feb. 6. This will be a re-match between these two evenly-matched teams; the previous contest had Ellicottville the victors by only one point. The contest will also feature a rematch between two of the top players in all of Section 6: 6’5” junior Elliot Bowen, averaging 21 points per game for Ellicottville, and 6’4” junior Sam Erickson for Franklinville, averaging 25.7 points per game.

NCAA Division I Basketball

St. Bonaventure’s Mckenna Maycock had three steals in her team’s 5th consecutive loss at the hands of Fordham University last Saturday at home. The women’s squad has dropped to 6-12 overall and 1-5 in conference play, sitting in 12th place in the Atlantic 10 conference that is lead by 6-0 Fordham. The Lady Bonnies will host 10th place Duquesne this Saturday, Jan. 21 at 4 p.m. at the Reilly Center.

In men’s action, 5th place St. Bonaventure is currently riding a two-game winning streak and will host 10th place St. Joseph’s at the Reilly Center this coming Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m.

NCAA Division III Basketball

Hilbert Lady Hawks Shannon Rogers snagged nine rebounds to help her team to their eighth victory over the weekend and fifth in AMCC conference play, where they are sitting in 4th place. Hilbert plays at home this weekend Saturday, Jan. 21 at 1 p.m. against 8th place Penn State Altoona. This game precedes the men’s game, also against Altoona. The men are in 5th place, while Altoona sits in 3rd. This will be the second meeting between the two schools; PSA won the first match-up by only one point, 83-84. A win for Hilbert will put both teams in a tie for 3rd place.

Player development tip of the week addresses a much overlooked aspect of basketball and something to keep in mind as you fine tune your game and foul shooting ability. Most close games are won from the free throw line, so it is important to stress the importance of this shot from the charity stripe. The other important point to remember is that the distance of the free throw line from the basket is the same, whether you play in the NBA or at the modified level. If your FT average is 70 percent and you are in grade eight, you shot better than many NBA stars!