By Christian Gravius
The last time Salamanca took home a tournament victory on this stage, the majority of the Warriors roster wasn’t even born yet.
Formerly named the Cattaraugus County IAABO Holiday Tournament, the Warriors took home first place honors for the first time since 2000 on Sunday afternoon, defeating Ellicottville 48-43 at St. Bonaventure’s Reilly Center in the Joe DeCerbo Memorial Tournament championship in the Pat Carroll Bracket.
Considering the Warriors are off to a hot 6-1 start, dropping a single game in an overtime heartbreaker to Franklinville, one would assume Sunday’s contest wouldn’t have been a close one against a young Ellicottville (4-4) team.
The box score, however, will show a fairly even matchup. With the Warriors leading at most by three points at the end of each quarter, Warriors coach Adam Bennett wasn’t particularly fond of his team’s performance.
“It wasn’t pretty,” he said.
Regardless, though, his team found a way to win.
“I told the team in the locker room, ‘good teams find a way’. And we found a way tonight,” he said. “If you want to be good over the course of a season you have to be able to win the pretty ones and the ugly ones.”
Perhaps the prettiest part of the Warriors’ win lied in Isaac Brown’s performance.
Brown led Salamanca with 20 points and five rebounds, laying down 12 of his points from deep while leading the team’s defense to earn tournament MVP honors in the process.
Up by five with under a minute left on the clock, that’s exactly where Salamanca would stay as it inched away with the victory when the Eagles began intentionally fouling the Warriors, marking what would end game’s evenness.
“It feels great,” said Ellicottville head coach Adam Bennett on his team taking home the program’s first tournament championship in 18 years.
After Saturday’s win, Bennett noted the heart his team displays in each game, which he says as given his team an advantage so far this season. When Ellicottville looked like it was ready to take the game over and found a lead in the final frame, Salamanca’s heart was on full display.
“There were a couple times in the fourth quarter where we could’ve easily folded and we pulled away,” Bennet said.
Out-rebounding the Warriors 48-23, Bennett said the Eagles killed his team on the boards.
“It wasn’t a lack of effort on our part, but they played really hard,” he said. “You have to give Dave (McCann) credit, that’s a really young team and they gave us all we could handle.”
Steven Rowland came up big for the Eagles, grabbing 14 rebounds and chipping in 18 points to lead Ellicottville, and while he only tallied even points of his own, Wyatt Chudy proved to be a force at the net grabbing 10 boards of his own. Leif Jimerson added 11 points.
Moving forward, it looks like Bennett and the Warriors are right where they want to be. Ending non-league play, the Warriors head into January without a single loss in regulation and their best record in December since 2016.
“Everything that we do in non-league play is to prepare us for league play,” Bennett said. “This tournament is a great barometer for what our league is like and gave us a good idea of where we’re at and where we need to be.”
Jimerson 5 0-0 11, C. Rowland 1 0-0 2, S. Rowland 8 2-3 18, Chudy 3 1-2 7, J. Grinols 1 1-2 3, L. Grinols 0 2-2 2. Totals: 18 6-9 43.
Hedlund 2 0-0 4, J. McKenna 4 2-5 9, Brown 6 4-7 20, John 3 0-0 7, George 2 2-3 7. Totals: 17 8-15 48.
Ellicottville 11 19 34 43
Salamanca 12 22 32 48
Three-point goals: Ellicottville 1 (Jimerson); Salamanca 6 (Brown 4, John, George). Total fouls: Ellicottville 17, Salamanca 11. Fouled out: Grinols (E).
Ellicottville 60, Portville 49
The first boys matchup of the 2018 Joe DeCerbo Memorial Tournament at St. Bonaventure’s Reilly Center between Portville and Ellicottville looked like identical twins playing against each other.
Both teams don maroon and white school colors, both schools’ names end in the “ville” suffix and coming into Saturday’s game, both teams had same number of wins (3).
With so many similarities between the two teams, one would assume it’d only makes sense their final scores would also be similar.
Well, that wasn’t the case, and the Eagles soared past Portville 60-49.
Backed by sophomore Leif Jimerson with 18 points, four assists and three steals, the Eagles gained a six-point lead on the Panthers headed into the half and would only continue to extend it from there.
Coming out of the locker room to begin the second half, the Eagles defensive efforts overpowered the Panthers.
With 14 points of its own in the third quarter, Ellicottville held Portville to a mere six in the same frame.
On the defensive end, Steven Rowland lead Ellicottville with 13 rebounds, three steals and six blocks.
Had it not been for a slow start to the second half, though, the Panthers very well may have been able to keep up with, or even pass, Ellicottville.
Led by Zayne Tarr with 16 points and 6 rebounds and Dalton Tobola with five points, seven rebounds and six steals, the Panthers kept themselves in the game up until the buzzer, but its third quarter deficit proved to be a hole too deep for the Panthers to claw themselves out of.
“The guys played a solid game overall,” said McCann on his Eagles team made up of primarily juniors.
“When we’re this young, there’s going to be ups and downs,” added McCann. “But today I told them we took a big step in the right direction. We have our moments and I still don’t think we’ve played a full 32-minute game yet, but they have potential and I hope they saw that today.”
Howard 0 2-2 2, Kloc 2 1-2 5, Pullins 2 1-1 5, Tobola 2 0-1 5, Mathes 4 1-2 12, Griffin 1 0-0 2, Tarr 6 4-9 16. Totals: 17 9-16 49.
Jimerson 6 4-7 18, Logel 1 0-0 2, Rowland 3 3-9 9, Chudy 5 2-2 12, Hutchinson 1 0-0 2, Grinols 2 0-1 5. Totals: 23 11-16 60.
Portville 14 24 30 49
Ellicottville 17 30 44 60
Three-point goals: Portville 4 (Mathes 3, Griffin); Ellicottville 3 (Jimerson 2, Grinols). Total fouls: Portville 16, Ellicottville 16. Fouled out: Tabola, Pullins (P).