By Indrek Kongats

Ellicottville High School has started their basketball season with tryouts having taken place Monday, Nov. 7 for JV and Varsity teams, both boys and girls. Everyone is excited and looking forward to repeating the successes from last season, where the boys Varsity went 15-8 eventually losing to NYS finalists Panama High School in the playoffs.

Players to watch include on the girls Varsity squad, Marissa Hamilton, who was the Player of the Year and will be playing in her senior year, and on the boys squad, Elliot Bowen, who averaged 19.3 points per game last season and will only be a junior this year.

The coach for the boys Varsity is Dan McCann, and for the girls Varsity it is Chad Bartoszek, who you’ll recognize as the Titans football coach who took the team to the Section VI Class D finals last Friday.

While we are waiting for rosters and schedule updates to be confirmed for the Eagles and Lady Eagles, local college basketball has already started and there are some excellent games to go see this weekend.

Division I Basketball – Atlantic 10 Conference St. Bonaventure University Men’s Basketball team plays host to St. Francis from Pennsylvania at the Reilly Center; game time is 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 12. The SBU women’s team plays Colgate University, also at the Reilly Center, at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13. Local hoops standout from Randolph High School, McKenna Maycock, plays for the Bonnies women’s team.

Division III Basketball – Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Hilbert College men’s basketball team plays Durham College from Ontario, Canada on Saturday, Nov. 12 at the Hafner Center in Hamburg, NY; game time is 4 p.m. Local area players to watch are Josh Eddy from Panama High School and Connor McAllister from Randolph High School.

The men’s team also plays the following week, Nov.15, in a double header with the women’s team against Elmira College. Game times are 6 p.m. for the women, followed by the men at 8 p.m.

On Nov.18 and 19, the men’s team is hosting their annual Tip Off Tournament against Fredonia State, Cazenovia College and Mount Union College from Ohio. Hilbert plays Cazenovia in their first game at 8 p.m. On the women’s team, be sure to watch local area standout Shannon Rodgers from Pioneer High School.

Player Development Tip of the Week

Shooting is the number one passion in the sport of basketball. Every player wants to score points for their team but after graduation from high school shooting and scoring at the college level takes on a whole new meaning. Young players are obsessed with the three point line and will practice three-point shots more than any other. Unfortunately, shooting longer shots than your body is capable of performing creates bad form and mechanics that are almost impossible to fix. Young players end up pushing the ball toward the basket and shooting from their shoulder or below.

The ideal shot should come from above the head. Without the proper strength in the arms and the legs, young players resort to getting the ball to the basket whatever way that they can. Practice shooting from in close, 5 to 10 feet away, raising the ball above your head and releasing it from your hand with your arms almost straight or fully extended as in the illustration below. Shoot from a range that you can do this all of the time. A defender can easily block shoulder shooters but may not reach a ball released from above your head. As your body develops and as you get stronger increase your range, be patient— your time to shot 3s like Stephen Curry will come in due time.