East Edges Ellicottville On Layup In Final Seconds
No. 1 Buffalo East held plenty of leads against No. 4 Ellicottville during Tuesday night’s Section VI Class D boys basketball semifinal at the Physical Education Complex on the campus of Jamestown Community College, but after Griffin Chudy was able to knock down a pair of free throws for the Eagles with 8.9 seconds remaining, the Panthers found themselves in a one-point hole.
That deficit set the stage for Willard Anderson’s heroics, as the senior captain was able to get a handle on the inbounds pass and sprint his way to the left side of the court for a last-second finish that gave Buffalo East (16-6) a momentous 62-61 victory.
When asked if the last-second play is something that his team runs in practice, Buffalo East coach Starling Bryant replied, “All the time … all the time. I’d go with (Willard) any time. I would definitely trust him with the ball late in the ball game.”
It’s easy to see why after Anderson’s composure on Tuesday evening, where he finished with 37 points, 11 rebounds and six assists for the Panthers.
While Buffalo East at times looked poised to move on to the finals with a confident win, the Eagles (18-4) remained pesky throughout the night and refused to let the No. 1 seed get any breathing room.
In the early going, the Panthers were able to rely on their heavy full-court press to force turnovers and create offense all the way to a 17-7 lead after the opening period of play, but as the game went on foul trouble forced a change in strategy.
“I wanted to use (the trap) early. I would have kept using it but we got in foul trouble,” Bryant said.“Justin (Allen) got three, Waunya (Shaw) got three and I was just kind of nervous with the way the officials were calling the game today.”
After starting the second quarter in a hole, Ellicottville was able to bounce back thanks to a trey by Austin Grinols, a putback from Griffin Chudy and back-to-back buckets from Steven Rowland to cap off a six-point run that brought things to a tie at 19-19.
Some hot shooting by Shaw and a three-point play completed by Jahahd Maryon were they keys to Buffalo East getting back in the driver’s seat, but once again the Eagles were able to bounce back before halftime.
An inside bucket from Chudy was followed by a steal and finish for Noah Struve, while Rowland was able to get a jumper to fall as the buzzer for halftime rang to pull Ellicottville within seven.
“We’re proud of them, and they battled when they could have folded,” said Ellicottville coach Dave McCann. “Multiple times during that game, down 10 or 11 points, but like they have their whole careers for me they battled and I just wanted to get across to them how proud of them I am. They have nothing to be ashamed of today, they left their hearts on the court and we didn’t get a bounce at the end. They got a bounce at the end, and sometimes that is basketball.”
While McCann’s team had a well-balanced night of offense, it was solely Anderson who was able to carry Buffalo East through most of third quarter with a transition bucket that fell before back-to-back treys to maintain the lead for the Panthers.
It was a hot stretch by Elliot Bowen which included work inside, at the foul line and a nice dish to Rowland that pushed Ellicottville on its big run in the fourth, all the way to its first lead of the night at 54-53 with 3:25 remaining.
From there the lead would jockey back and forth four times until Anderson was finally able to put things away in the closing seconds.
“I’m glad to see them get tested, but I wasn’t pleased with some of the turnovers, some of the decisions that we made late,” said Bryant. “We were lucky, we made about three or four bad passes late in the ball game, a couple missed layups, and you usually don’t win games like that when you make those type of mistakes.”
That win puts Buffalo East into a finals matchup with No. 3 Franklinville, which will take place on Friday at 6 p.m. inside the Physical Education Complex.
NOTES: Chudy finished with 16 points and five assists to lead Ellicottville, while Bowen had 15 points and six rebounds. … Grinols finished with six points and four assists. … Allen added seven points, nine rebounds, two assists, two blocks and three steals for the winners.
Leiper 1 0 3, Stuve 3 0 7, Rowland 7 0 14, Chudy 6 4 16, Grinols 2 0 6, Bowen 5 5 15. Totals 24 9 61.
BUFFALO EAST (62)
Shaw 2 4 9, Anderson 11 10 37, Allen 3 1 7, Maryon 4 1 9, Green 0 0 0, Mberwa 0 0 0. Totals 20 16 62.
3-point goals–Shaw, Anderson 5, Leiper, Stuve, Grinols 2.
Ellicottville 7 20 14 20–61
Buffalo East 17 17 15 13–62