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Wellsville picks up big win in basketball; Fillmore, GV/B story and photo gallery by Chris Brooks


By CHRIS BROOKS, managing editor,

WELLSVILLE — After a battle-tested, five-game gauntlet to open up their Sectional title defense, the Lions of Wellsville were determined and destined to reach the win column with one final game separating them from the holiday break ahead.

That day would finally arrive in full force on Thursday against Eugenio Maria de Hostos. After a competitive opening quarter to set up shop with the visiting Hornets in the Lion’s Den, the jets were turned up and into maximum overdrive by JJ Howard and his monstrous night on the floor, compiling a huge second quarter to essentially give the Lions enough room to work their way free and towards their first win of the season by a 60-48 count.

“It’s so much fun to coach a kid like JJ,” Lions coach Tom Muska said. “He has the ability to change a game or a team’s culture when he plays happy like he did tonight. Aiden (Cowburn) had a lot of his shoulders this year, trying to handle pressure. It’s a tough transition to another level for a point guard, especially when you have to have them think quicker under pressure. He was great tonight, and we have a great group of kids that are starting to build some chemistry. We’re still a little behind, but will reach that level we haven’t seen yet. Tonight is one of those nights where it feels like we’re back on the right track.”

Eugenio Maria and Wellsville (1-5) came out firing on all cylinders across the first quarter of play, exchanging quick back-and-forth baskets in the early stages before the Hornets were able to wiggle their free towards a 13-9 lead approaching two minutes remaining in the frame. But for the remainder of the quarter, the Lions took over and scored six of the last eight points to create a 15-15 deadlock going into the second.

Looking to break away from Eugenio Maria’s grasp, Wellsville went on to do just that with a 13-7 run in the second quarter — the majority of which was engineered by Howard, who bucketed 10 points in the frame itself and 16 for the entire first half of play, as the Lions floored it towards a six-point halftime lead.

For the remainder of the game, the Lions had to buckle down on defense to keep their advantage secured. The lead they received at the end of the first half was threatened by the Hornets, but it was never relinquished, as they put together a 21-point fourth quarter led by an array of free throws from Aiden Cowburn, who finished with a 5-for-6 outing at the stripe to help seal the victory permanently.

Howard would pace the Lions offense with his game-high 25 points for the Lions, while Cowburn followed up behind him with 12 points of his own. Alex Green had nine points to chip in.

Wellsville is now off until after the holiday next week, as they prepare to partake in the Joe DeCerbo Holiday Showcase at Allegany-Limestone beginning next Thursday afternoon with a 12:45 p.m. tip-off against Cuba-Rushford. The following day, the Lions will close out the action with a 12:45 p.m. contest against the Bradford Owls.

Eugenio Maria 15 7 9 16 – 48

Wellsville 15 13 11 21 – 60

EUGENIO MARIA: J. Davis 3 0-0 6, M. Thomas 2 1-1 5, M. Chevese 4 3-4 14, E. Joseph 3 2-2 9, S. Patterson 3 0-0 7, H. Vargas 2 2-7 6, J. Lewis 1 0-1 2. Totals: 18 8-15 48.

WELLSVILLE: Aiden Cowburn 3 6-8 12, Karson Grover 2 1-2 5, Cooper Brockway 1 1-2 3, JJ Howard 11 2-7 25, Ty Vogel 2 0-2 4, Ethan Bailey 1 0-0 2, Alex Green 2 5-10 9. Totals: 22 15-31 60.

3-point goals: EM 5 (Chevese 3, Joseph, Patterson), Wellsville 1 (Howard).
Total Fouls: EM 25, Wellsville 16. Fouled out: Thomas (EM), Chevese (EM), Bailey (WLSV).

Arkport-Canaseraga 68, Avoca-Prattsburgh 67

AVOCA — They are the reigning back-to-back Class D New York State Basketball champions for many reasons. Because of that, Avoca-Prattsburgh continues to define greatness of the hardwood, day in and day out.

It’s a montra like no other, especially in this local basketball scene. But it was also something that Arkport-Canaseraga would experience firsthand come Thursday night in Avoca.

It was a challenge that the Wolves were more than happy to accept.

Both teams would enter the night at 4-1 overall and only one would walk away with their fifth win entering the holiday break coming up. All across the night, Arkport-Canaseraga and Avoca-Prattsburgh were both wheeling and dealing across the board.

With it, came a moment in its own right.

From the charity stripe, two clutch shots were driven straight through the twine. Both, by Caden Carey, as he scored his last two points to propel the Wolves towards one of their biggest victories in recent memory over the road, handing Avoca-Prattsburgh their first loss in Steuben County action in three years with an amazing 68-67 victory.

Carey would lead Arkport-Canaseraga on offense with his team-leading 16 points. Following closely behind was Devin Moran, who had 13 points to go with six steals. Tim Vilkhu recorded a big double-double to help further the team’s cause with 12 points and 10 boards. Ibra Ford had 11 points to become the fourth Wolves scorer to eclipse double figures in the scorebook.

NY Land Quest congratulates all student athletes

For Avoca-Prattsburgh, Dan Stilson led all scorers on the floor with a game-high 32 points to pair with 12 rebounds to complete a double-double. JJ Crowder bucketed 18 points, while Macoy Putnam chipped in with nine points to go with 10 rebounds and 10 assists to help round off the scoring.

The Titans are back on their home floor in Avoca next Friday with a 7 p.m. battle against Wayland-Cohocton.Arkport-Canaseraga will enjoy the holiday away, as they return to the floor looking to build off their enormous win with a road trip to Perry next Saturday afternoon, taking on the host Yellowjackets in a 3 p.m. tip-off.

Thursday Basketball: Lady Eagles fortify 1st half defense, freeze GV/Belfast in early County showdown, remain unbeaten with 50-35 win

FILLMORE — Two of Allegany County’s hottest stalwarts on the hardwood were on a collision course towards their first meeting of the season, Thursday night inside The Rock in Fillmore. The Lady Eagles were rolling on all angles and across all facets of the game, scoring wins in each of their first five games to open their campaign.

As for Genesee Valley/Belfast, a similar start themselves, hanging wins in six of their first seven games on the season behind some stellar defense and a widespread distribution on the offensive front.

With everything the two teams had clicking for them, something had to give right?

Two towering infernos were burning in conjunction with one another, but after the night was over, only one could be extinguished. The other, remaining on fire going into Christmas. Right away in the opening quarter between Genesee Valley/Belfast and Fillmore, a true test of defense. The Lady Eagles came out swinging with a full-court press to drive their opposition off-balance for much of the opening half.

Along with it, some big points in transition, as they established a 17-point frame to take the lead before baskets became a rarity in the second quarter to close out the half. With the lead still in hand, the Lady Eagles would never let it go despite some late pressure from Genesee Valley/Belfast in the late stages of the fourth quarter, as they remained undefeated on the campaign with a 50-35 victory.

“Tonight was a good rivalry game and a nice atmosphere that came with it. These girls know each other very well and some of them are even related,” said Lady Eagles coach Tom Parks. “The girls were up for this game and we had a fast start, but Genesee Valley/Belfast is a strong team and we just couldn’t get comfortable enough until the end of the third quarter. I have to mention our forwards, we are the smaller team every night on the floor, but our “bigs” battle in the trenches to do all the little things to help our team win.”

Some back-and-forth trading of baskets set the stage for both teams out of the gate, with an Abby Sullivan triple putting Genesee Valley/Belfast on top first in the early-going. Later on in the frame, Rachel Hatch responded with one of her own for the Lady Eagles (6-0) to produce a lead they extended upon behind their full-court press.

More openings in the Genesee Valley/Belfast (6-2) defense were created by the hosts in white and green, allowing them to run off with seven straight points, powered by back-to-back runaway baskets from Hope Russell straight to the rim. The run would reach nine in a row before the visitors in black ended the quarter strongly themselves off more help from Sullivan outside, netting her second triple under immense pressure.

“We knew going in that it would be a battle, and give Fillmore credit for their consistent defensive pressure,” said GV/Belfast coach Raegan Ryan. “Our girls played so hard for all 32 minutes, I can’t ask for more than that. I was really proud of the way Abby was able to step up, especially when Mary (Hamer) and Sophie (Zillgitt) got into foul trouble. She kept us in it and shot the ball really well. It’s really great to see her play so confidently.”

The second quarter would witness a fair amount of defense between the two foes for much of the time spent. Near the midway mark, just two baskets worth of points were scavenged between the two clubs — both of which by Fillmore down low, which saw them take their lead and eclipse double figures.

But Genesee Valley/Belfast was able to shake it off with the last five points of the first half — three of those points off a third Sullivan trey, working their way through some early foul trouble from Fillmore to trail by a 24-15 count at the break.

It was a positive finish for Genesee Valley/Belfast to build from, as they used a long three off the hand of Sophie Zillgitt to carve their deficit down to five to start the second half. But once that came into fruition, Fillmore provisioned a greater response themselves with six straight points to eclipse a double digit advantage once again behind back-to-back three-pointers from Hope and Grace Russell to set an early tone.

“Hope and Grace hit those back-to-back threes and that really allowed us to take over offensively in the third quarter to give us a little breathing room,” Parks said. “Because of it, we had a nice momentum shift to close out that quarter. But Genesee Valley/Belfast didn’t let up. Defensively, we tried to limit Mary and Abby with mixed results. Both girls had some big stretches and ended up in double digits to lead them.”

The triples for the Lady Eagles installed a mid-frame jaunt of Genesee Valley/Belfast — one that eventually allowed them to pull away for good, scoring 10 straight points off great defense in transition to force the ball back over to their side near midcourt, cashing in on two possessions in consecutive fashion to help close out a third quarter that featured a 39-25 lead.

Although baskets were a bit hard to come by in the last eight minutes the night would see, Genesee Valley/Belfast would continue to hang around behind the emergence of Mary Hamer, who provided two big triples along with a nicely banked shot off the glass inside and through the twine to keep the visitors buzzing.

But in the waning stages, the Lady Eagles were able to hang on and keep their fire burning into the holiday freeze.

Hope Russell led all scorers on the floor for the Lady Eagles with a game-high 22 points, pairing them with eight steals. Grace Russell followed behind with 11 points of her own, along with seven steals. Rachel Hatch (eight rebounds) and Preslee Miller each had six points, while Kylee Ellsworth grabbed six boards off the glass.

For Genesee Valley/Belfast, Mary Hamer paved the way with 15 team-high points. Abby Sullivan finished with 13 points.

Both teams now begin their two-week break from action and will return to the hardwood on the same day, on January 5 with a pair of 7:30 p.m. home battles in store that night, as Fillmore welcomes Letchworth to town, while Genesee Valley/Belfast prepares for a visit from Warsaw in Belfast.

Genesee Valley/Belfast 10 5 10 10 – 35

Fillmore 17 7 15 11 – 50

GV/BELFAST: Abby Sullivan 5 0-0 13, Sophie Zillgitt 1 0-0 3, Whitney Young 0 0-2 0, Mary Hamer 4 2-2 15, Ava Aaronson 2 0-0 4, Jenna Hill 0 0-2 0. Totals: 12 2-6 35.

FILLMORE: Hope Russell 7 6-10 22, Grace Russell 4 2-2 11, Rachel Hatch 2 0-0 6, Amelia Rose 1 0-0 2, Mattie McCumiskey 1 1-4 3, Preslee Miller 2 2-4 6, Emalyn Mucher 0 0-2 0. Totals: 17 11-22 50.

3-point goals: GVB 7 (Sullivan 3, Hamer 3, Zillgitt), Fillmore 5 (H. Russell 2, Hatch 2, G. Russell).
Total Fouls: GVB 19, Fillmore 15. Fouled out: Aaronson (GVB), Miller (FIL).

Avoca-Prattsburgh 78, Andover/Whitesville 27

ANDOVER — An electric start for Avoca-Prattsburgh’s Kamryn Edwards from the get-go and some more assistance from the three-point arc set up shop for a 28-point first quarter against host Andover/Whitesville on Thursday, as the Lady Titans finished off the end of their calendar year with every punctuation they were able to provide in a 78-27 road win in Andover.

Edwards was Avoca-Prattsburgh’s leading scorer with her game-high 21 points, as she allowed the Lady Titans to get off onto the right foot by recording 12 points to go with three first quarter three-pointers — two from Meyah Putnam and one from Breanna Jorritsma, who both followed behind Edwards in double figures themselves, finishing with 13 and 10 points, respectively.

The 28-11 run across the first eight minutes of play for the team in black and gold allowed them to immediately set the tone against Andover/Whitesville (2-6), as they held onto their lead for good all the way to the finish line.

Katrina Lewis led the hosts in white with a team-leading nine points. Graci Lewis-Ellison and Makaila Brewster each posted five points.

Andover/Whitesville is now off until the calendar flips to 2024, as they return to the floor on January 3 with a 7:30 p.m. contest back in Andover against Friendship/Scio.

Avoca-Prattsburgh 28 15 17 18 – 78

Andover/Whitesville 11 3 5 8 – 27

AVOCA-PRATTSBURGH: D’Mariannah Hinson-Pike 3 0-0 8, Gwen Moon 1 0-0 2, Meyah Putnam 5 0-0 13, Emma Carlton 1 0-0 2, Breanna Jorritsma 4 1-2 10, Kamryn Edwards 10 1-4 21, Marissa Reid 4 0-0 9, Ellie Harrell 2 0-0 6, Kendra Gay 2 0-0 4, Lily Hausauer 1 0-0 3. Totals: 33 2-6 78.

ANDOVER/WHITESVILLE: Graci Lewis-Ellison 2 1-6 5, Grace Fry 2 0-0 4, Makaila Brewster 2 1-2 5, Olivia Waters 1 2-3 4, Katrina Lewis 4 1-3 9. Totals: 11 5-14 27.

3-point goals: A-P 10 (Putnam 3, Hinson-Pike 2, Harrell 2, Jorritsma, Reid, Hausauer).
Total Fouls: A-P 9, A/W 4. Fouled out: None.

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