ELLICOTTVILLE — The Ellicottville girls basketball team started strong and had to hold on for its first league victory of the season on Monday over Salamanca.
Ellicottville held a 14-4 lead after the first quarter, but the game drew closer as the Eagles struggled in the second with just one point, taking a 15-14 lead to halftime. Ellicottville led 39-32 with just over two minutes to play before Salamanca made a desperate rally down to one possession, 39-37, but could not get a chance to tie without fouling late in the game as the Eagles won 43-39.
“Winning our first league game felt awesome,” ECS coach Chelsea Cole said. “My girls worked really hard all game and really pushed the entire second half.”
Emilee Ruiz led the Eagles (3-6, 1-0) with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Evelyn Nuzzo (5 rebounds) and Makenna Smith (6 rebounds) had 11 points each. Allison Rowland also grabbed eight boards.
Jaeden Hubbard had a double-double on 16 points and 10 rebounds for Salamanca (0-7). Jillian Rea chipped in 13 points. Nizhoni Kennedy had six rebounds.
Salamanca had a more than three-week break between games, last playing on Dec. 14 and the rust showed in the first quarter.
"I thought that we might come out slow," SHS coach Bryelle Wallin said. "We haven't played since Dec. 14, so it's been almost a month without an actual game and scrimmaging each other can only go so far. But they made their shots, we didn't have any good offensive possessions, so that's going to be our Achilles' heel, is getting good possessions."
For the Warriors, it was the second straight game that finished just out of reach: Salamanca lost by the same score, 43-39, in overtime against Clymer.
"It's good to see (a close game), it would be better to see us be composed and poised under pressure, but it's coming along," Wallin said. "Relatively, we're still pretty young. So we've got to figure out how to play together and play in high-pressure situations."
Warrior 2 1-1 6, Rea 6 1-4 13, McGonigle 0 0-2 0, Kennedy 2 0-0 4, Hubbard 8 0-0 16. Totals: 18 2-7 39.
Ficek 0 1-2 1, Smith 2 5-8 11, Ruiz 4 3-4 14, Rowland 3 0-0 6, Eddy 0 0-2 0, Nuzzo 4 1-2 11. Totals: 13 10-18 43.
Salamanca 4 14 24 39
Ellicottville 14 15 25 43
Three-point goals: Salamanca 1 (Warrior); Eville 7 (Smith 2, Ruiz 3, Nuzzo 2). Total fouls: Salamanca 14, Eville 11. Fouled out: Warrior (S).