CAN’T TOUCH THIS — West Valley Central School’s Jordan Seltzer gets one past a defender, during a recent game. Photo by Dave DeLuca.
WEST VALLEY — It’s something that West Valley girls varsity basketball coach John Arbogast has never done, in his five years as the head of the program: take down longtime rival Ellicottville. That all changed on Jan. 17, when West Valley defeated Ellicottville 40-38. With the win, West Valley improved to 2-1 in league play.
“This is a big win for us,” said Arbogast. “I can’t remember the last time we beat [Ellicottville]. Hopefully, a win like this will put us on the right track. If the girls can continue to play with the same intensity and the same focus, we can play with anybody in our league.”
The game was a back-and-forth affair, with neither team able to establish more than a 4-point lead, in the second half. Ellicottville called timeout, with the game tied at 38-38, with 20 seconds left in the game. The Ellicottville ladies inbounded the ball successfully but, when they attempted to swing the ball across the perimeter, West Valley’s Alex Gentner picked off the pass and took off in transition.
West Valley came up empty, on two attempts to take the lead, but Jordan Seltzer grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a jumper from the short corner, with three seconds left, that proved to be the game-winner.
“It was an exciting game,” said Arbogast. “There were a lot of people there and the place went nuts. This game, we played hard, from start to finish. That’s the most focused we’ve been. We stayed focused; we didn’t panic, even when we did get behind. We didn’t get rattled.”
Heading into the game, Arbogast wanted to slow down Ellicottville standout Marissa Hamilton. Hamilton averages 15 points per game and has notched seven double-doubles, this season.
Arbogast used a box-and-one strategy, to attempt to contain the 5-foot-10 freshman guard. The box-and-one gave Seltzer the responsibility of guarding Hamilton in man-to-man defense, while the rest of her team fell back into a 2-2 zone.
“I know she’s played against a box-and-one before, but that’s usually with a taller person on her,” said Arbogast, of Hamilton.
“I don’t think she’s had a smaller player on her like Jordan, that just tried to harass her. It really seemed to work and we were able to somewhat slow her down.”
Arbogast switched in and out of the box-and-one, mixing in a 2-3 zone, at times.
Seltzer finished the night with 8 points and dished out six assists. Trisha Thomas led West Valley in scoring, with 12 points, and grabbed 11 rebounds. EmmaLea Erlandson had 7 points and seven rebounds. Kaitlyn Snayczuk also scored 7 points and pulled down 14 rebounds, while blocking three shots.
West Valley collected the team’s first league win of the year, when the girls defeated North Collins 58-40 on Jan. 15. West Valley held a 25-17 lead at halftime, but would pull away, in the second half.
“Both teams were playing sloppy, in the first half,” said Arbogast.
“Fortunately for us, we were able to get ahead of them and stay ahead of them. Our rebounding really helped us, in the second half. We were able to secure the ball and get running down the floor. That really wore North Collins out.”
Erlandson led West Valley, with a career-high 20 points, while also grabbing 15 rebounds.
“She was attacking the basket, but she was doing it in a more fluent way,” said Arbogast, about Erlandson’s game.
“I’ve told her that she’s made leaps and bounds from last year. She’s come so far. She’s going to be a force in this league, for years to come. She has all the tools to do it.”
Thomas scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Snayczuk had 10 points and pulled down 13 rebounds.
West Valley traveled to Forestville on Jan. 24.