By Christian Gravius
In a championship battle of two undefeated class D teams, Ellicottville (7-0) handed Belfast (6-1) its first loss of the season. Topping the Bulldogs 76-61, The Eagles were named the Joe DeCerbo Memorial Tournament’s small school champions Saturday night.
From the opening tip-off, the calm and collected Ellicottville squad pulled away from Belfast early on. While the Bulldogs were able to feed the ball to Adam Enders and Isaiah Leiseur for early three pointers, the Eagles worked from the paint and proved to be the more efficient team. Working off the momentum of what would be a 34-point game by center Elliot Bowen good enough for him to earn all-tournament MVP, the Eagles scrappiness under the net, as well as two three pointers from Austin Grinols and another by Deric Leiper had earned them a 13-point lead going into the second quarter.
By this time though, Adam Enders was starting to warm up, and the second eight minutes of play belonged to Belfast. Outscoring Ellicottville 31-10, the Bulldogs continued to feed Enders outside the arc where he came up big, hitting four of his five three pointers, with one coming from just outside the half court logo. Still fighting from behind, a loose ball with 2:36 left in the quarter turned to a layup and foul on Enders. The layup tied the game at 29, and Enders successful foul shot gave the Bulldogs their first lead.
“I knew the kid was a scorer,” said Ellicottville coach Dave McCann. “Some of the guys on our team played AAU with him, so we knew what to expect.”
What wasn’t expected however, was the foul trouble Enders would find himself in. By the third quarter, Enders was watching from the bench as he sat with a lot of game left to play, and four fouls to his name.
“He’s one of the best players around, when he’s not on the court, it’s definitely not going to help us,” said Belfast coach Joe Hennessy. “You’ve got to give it up to Ellicottville though, they knew what they had to do and they’re the ones who got him in foul trouble.”
With the game tied at 44 by the latter half of the third quarter, it looked like it could still be either team’s game. With Enders still sitting out, as well as consistent foul shooting and 12 points from Griffin Chudy, the Eagles were able to soar past the Bulldogs to earn the title of tournament champions.
“I thought we really weathered some adversity. They hit a lot of shots in the second quarter and we had to play from behind. Even with the amount of shots they were hitting, our guys didn’t hang their heads and we worked on what needed to be fixed going into the second half,” said McCann.
Leiper 1 0-1 3, Stuve 3 0-0 6, Rowland 1 0-0 2, Chudy 5 5-6 16, Grinols 4 6-3 15, Bowen 14 6-7 34. Totals: 27 14-20 76.
Gustason 3 2-2 9, McCumiskey 3 0-0 9, Ad. Enders 9 4-4 27, Leiseur 5 0-2 12, Al. Enders 1 0-0 2. Totals: 20 6-8 61.
Three-point goals: Ellicottville 5 (Chudy, Grinols 4); Belfast 11 (Gustason, Leiseur, McCumiskey 3, Ad. Enders 5). Total fouls: Ellicottville 10 , Belfast 13. Fouled out: None.