By Indrek Kongats
What a week of basketball, starting with a very controversial game between St. Bonaventure and VCU that had fans rushing the court, thereby changing the outcome of that game. A questionable administrated technical resulted in sending the game into overtime, a call that reverberated all the way to the court at Ellicottville High School for the start of a much anticipated game Monday night between the boys’ Varsity ECS Eagles and their cross county rivals, the Franklinville Panthers. Before the game got underway, the packed house of very enthusiastic fans were warned to stay off the court at the end of the game to avoid any possible game changing outcomes.
The top billing was briefly overshadowed by a very exciting JV contest, also from the same schools, that saw a very close game going into not one, but two 4-minute overtime periods, with the JV Eagles finally coming out on top. Like any great warm up act, the stage was set and the fans pumped up, ready to rumble (in their seats as requested) as the main event got underway
As a bonus, the fans were also treated to an amazing and powerful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by ECS middle school student Callie Rounds that made Luke Bryan’s Super Bowl performance pale in comparison!
With the football season over and the combined Ellicottville/Franklinville team disbanded, the Titans returned to their prospective schools to compete on the hard court as the Eagles and the Panthers. Not only were the Titans literally about to clash against each other but the two best players in Class D Section VI basketball were about to do battle as well— Bowen versus Erickson.
The earlier match-up back on Jan. 4 between these two excellent teams saw the Eagles coming out ahead 53-52. This Monday night’s rematch promised to be a close one as well. The Eagles came out on fire, easily scoring the first nine points before the Panthers finally got on the board with 4:54 left in the first quarter. Ellicottville looked to be in control the entire game, allowing Franklinville occasionally back into the lead, briefly once in the second quarter 15-14 and then again mid-way through the third quarter, 34-33. It wasn’t until with 6:30 minutes left in the fourth and final quarter, that the Panthers clawed their way into the lead for good winning, 64-55.
The game strategy for each team was to stop Bowen and Erickson and both accomplished just that. Both players, who averaged 20 points per game and almost as many rebounds, were closely guarded and doubled teamed the entire game. Bowen managed only 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Erickson did a little better with 16 points, six of which came from the 3-point arc at key times in the game. He also added 10 rebounds for his team.
The real story was the players that just this past fall were teammates on the grid iron, now faced off against each other on the hardwood. Austin Grinols, Griffin Chudy, Brock Blecha, along with Sam Erickson, helped take the Ellicottville Franklinville Titans to the Section VI football championships. For the Eagles, Grinols nailed a half dozen or so threes ending up with 19 points. Chudy contributed another 14 points and 10 rebounds. Blecha added 16 points and nine rebounds behind fellow Panther Isaac Kopps’ 17 points and five rebounds.
Fueled by the boys’ loss to Franklinville, the ECS girls Varsity team traveled to Franklinville the next night and not only avenged the Monday night boys’ loss, but also avenged their own previous 34-50 loss to the Lady Panthers back on Jan. 12. Marrissa Hamilton and crew took the Haskell sisters and the rest of the Panthers to the final buzzer, pulling out a 62-60 win.
The girls’ next home game will be this Friday night, Feb.10 against Catt/Little Valley, while the boys will play Forestville on Feb. 13 at home.