By Sam Wilson
Down three points in the sectional semifinals, the Ellicottville boys basketball team got two looks at extending its season, at least into overtime.
One just missed, the other was blocked. And Holland denied the Eagles a trip to the Section 6 Class C2 championship game, 54-51, Tuesday night at Jamestown Community College.
The Dutchmen (16-6) trailed 39-31 at halftime, and slowly chipped away in the second half, taking a lead on a Noah Kirsch three-pointer less than two minutes into the fourth quarter.
Holland held Ellicottville scoreless for nearly six minutes into the fourth, taking a 50-42 lead, before the Eagles started to rally.
“The kids battled,” Ellicottville coach Dave McCann said. “Even down eight there late, about a minute and a half left. They were doing the things they needed to do to put themselves in that position to get that last shot. You’ve got some missed free throws on their part, we did a pretty good job of getting the ball up the court, we found open guys, the open guy made the shot and to even get it back down from 8 to 3 in that one-minute stretch showed a lot about the heart these kids had.”
Sophomore guard Logan Grinols broke out with a team-high 17 points for Ellicottville, making four three-pointers, and took four steals. He had the second look at a tying three-pointer, after Lucas Marsh’s attempt missed but the Eagles secured a rebound.
“We wanted to have three of our best shooters around on the perimeter and I’m good with any one of those three taking the shot,” McCann said of the last play. “The ball found Lucas’ hands, he had a good, clean look at it, it just went a little long on him. We got the rebound out to Logan, and he got the ball deflected.”
Also for Ellicottville, Clayton Rowland had 16 points and 12 rebounds. Wyatt Chudy (four steals) and Leif Jimerson had eight points each.
The Eagles may not have needed a desperate rally late with a few more free throws. Ellicottville shot 15-for-27 at the foul line.
“It’s definitely an issue,” McCann admitted, “you lose by three, you’re 15-of-27 on the line, it’s frustrating for the kids, frustrating for us as a coaching staff and we’ve got to get better at it.”
Of the Eagles’ offensive woes until the final two minutes, McCann said his team settled for shots too often in the fourth.
“I thought they picked up their defensive intensity in the second half quite a bit,” he said. “I think we were settling for some things that we weren’t really settling for in the first half. I think we took a lot of quick shots that we didn’t need to necessarily take, instead of trying to work the ball around and looking to attack. I just thought their intensity picked up and our intensity on the offensive end dropped off a little bit.”
Tyler Scheffler led Holland with 16 points and Kirsch had 10, while Nolan Perry and Joe Ferrara had eight each.
No. 2 Holland will play top seed and defending C2 champion Randolph Friday night at JCC.
Despite the Dutchmen’s strong record, they have experience trailing this year. So coach Brandon Camacho said Holland didn’t lose composure trailing at half.
“We’ve kind of been in those positions quite a bit, unfortunately,” Camacho said. “And even our last playoff game we were down I think 15 at one point in the second quarter. So it’s something where we’re comfortable with it I try to stay calm as well, just what can we do differently and fix it. They did a really good job tonight of just composing themselves in the second half and just kind of slowly chipping away at it. That’s what we talked about, we’re not going to take them down with one big punch, it’s going to be slowly chip away at the lead and they did a really good job. Credit to them, they just kept fighting.”
Ellicottville graduates three seniors, including starting forwards Jordan Grinols and Niklas Logel. But the bulk of the team is its junior class, and McCann hopes the Eagles learn from their latest trip to JCC.
“We just talked about trying to get over this hump,” McCann said. “This semifinal game has been kind of a thorn in our side for a few years now, even before these guys. So they just need to keep working on improving, getting better on fundamental skills. Obviously we just talked about getting to the free throw line. Just fundamentals of shooting and ball handling, we’ve got to get better at those.”
Jimerson 4 0-2 8, L. Grinols 5 3-4 17, Logel 0 2-4 2, Rowland 4 8-15 16, Chudy 3 2-2 8. Totals: 16 15-27 51.
Perry 3 0-0 8, Nellis 1 1-4 4, Kirsch 4 1-5 10, Ostrowski 1 3-4 5, Scheffler 6 4-4 16, Lewandowski 1 0-0 3, Ferrara 3 1-2 8. Totals: 19 10-19 54.
Ellicottville 10 29 42 51
Holland 11 21 38 54
Three-point goals: E’ville 4 (L. Grinols 4); Holland 5 (Perry 2, Nellis, Kirsch, Ferrara). Total fouls: E’ville 18, Holland 20. Fouled out: None.
Ellicottville 60, Frewsburg 49
Strong defensive presence and free throws proved to be the difference for No. 3 Ellicottville in a back-and-forth win at home in the Feb. 28 Section 6 Class C2 quarterfinal.
“Our defense was consistent all night, and that’s what carried throughout the game,” Ellicottville coach Dave McCann said. “(Frewsburg) knocked down shots in the first and third quarter, but our ball pressure in the second and fourth quarter was really good.
“We held Brad Nelson to very few good looks. We were strong defensively against him and I knew we would have to be to win tonight. Our kids stepped up in the fourth quarter. We were able to knock down free throws down the stretch to extend our lead and earn the victory.”
Frewsburg took an early 19-13 lead after the first quarter, but the Eagles battled back to tie it at halftime. Despite the Bears holding onto a one-point advantage, Ellicottville outscored Frewsburg 21-9 in the fourth quarter to advance to the semifinals.
Ellicottville finished the game shooting 22 of 26 from the line. Clayton Rowland was a team-best 11-for-12 from the line to go along with his 22 points. He added 10 rebounds, six steals and five assists. Leif Jimerson also finished in double figures with 16 points. Wyatt Chudy recorded nine points and 11 rebounds.
Brad Nelson highlighted the double-digit scorers for No. 6 Frewsburg (15-6) with 15 points. Aaron Hair had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Jameson Sposato chipped in 11 points.