By Sam Wilson

There’s a new face on the bench leading the Ellicottville girls basketball team, but Chelsea Cole hopes to keep things as familiar as possible for the Eagles.

As the school’s JV girls coach last year, Cole has a familiarity with the program and its players. And she hopes to keep up consistency with how her predecessor, Chad Bartoszek, had the Eagles play in his five years as girls head coach.

“We are trying to play a similar style compared to years past under Coach Bartoszek,” Cole said. “It has been a big adjustment jumping from JV to Varsity. There is more responsibility and more of a challenge.

“When I knew the position was open I was excited to take on the opportunity. I am familiar with the girls and was looking forward to working with them again.”

Through Monday night, when Ellicottville picked up its second win of the season, 58-21, at North Collins, the Eagles are 2-4.

This year’s team has three seniors, guard/forward Linnea Jimerson and centers Meganne Chapman and Sierra Maybee, and Cole expects all three to lead the squad. Jimerson averaged 19.4 points last season.

“We are going to rely heavily on Linnea and her experience because she has the most varsity experience out of the girls,” Cole said.

Last year’s team went .500 through the regular season before losing a first-round playoff game to finish at 10-11. Juniors Camryn Earley and Makenna Smith both return to the team and take on bigger roles as starting guards.

Cole also sees some newcomers from a talented junior varsity squad making an impact.

“Junior Evelyn Nuzzo has come up this year has shown the ability to shoot from the outside,” Cole said. “We have two first-year girls, Brooke Eddy and Emilee Ruiz. Brooke has been a positive influence and is working extremely hard. Emilee is showing a lot of potential to be a strong player in the future. We are hoping she continues to develop throughout the season.”

As for immediate goals, “I would like to see consistency, dedication, and positive attitude towards improving,” Cole said.

The Eagles remain in the CCAA East Div. II, where Franklinville figures to be a favorite again after making the New York State Class D championship game last winter. Others in the league include Cattaraugus-Little Valley, Forestville, Pine Valley and North Collins.

“We want to perform well in our league,” Cole said. “With a team like Franklinville in our league, it will present many challenges. Our overall goal is to steadily improve throughout the season and play at a highly competitive level.”