MAYVILLE - On a girls basketball team with just three seniors, Chautauqua Lake coach Eric Schuster and his staff know they'll have to rely on some youngsters this season if they hope to be successful.
That was certainly the case on Tuesday, anyway; and this time around it was the youngest of the youthful bunch, Katie Doyle, that took the reigns during an important second-quarter stretch in the Lady Thunderbirds' non-league battle with Ellicottville.
Doyle, one of Chautauqua Lake's four sophomores, ballooned what had been a slim, two-point lead behind back-to-back 3s that not only sparked a 13-4 run to end the half, but also invirgorated her subsequently excited teammates, leading directly, Schuster said, to Chautauqua Lake's the 60-44 victory.
"The thing with Katie is that she is so well-liked by everybody on our team that when she starts to play well our kids see that, and it's just an added boost for us. It lifts them all up," he said.
After Chautauqua Lake (4-0) jumped out to a typically quick start thanks to a pair of 6-0 runs in the first period - making the score 17-10 - Ellicottville, within the first two minutes of the second quarter, almost completely erased the deficit as Madison Szpaicher and eighth-grader Marissa Hamilton connected on treys from the right wing to cut the margin to just a pair, 18-16.
Then came Doyle's heroics.
Undaunted by the sudden Ellicottville comeback, Doyle (after a 3-pointer and a fast break layup from Sydney Milliman and Courtney Hewes) dropped in her first trey of the game from the left wing, directly in front of the Lady Eagles' bench. On the ensuing Chautauqua Lake possession, the 5-foot-4 guard, with pressure bearing down on her, drilled yet another trey, pushing the lead to a more comfortable nine points, 29-20, with a little less than two minutes remaining before the break.
"She's coming along," Schuster said. "She's always been a pretty good shooter and the thing I like about her it that she's a gamer. She listens to you, she wants to improve and her attitude is phenomenal. And you know what? When she comes into the game, she's not afraid to shoot. She's ready to fire away."
Following the outburst, the Lady Thunderbirds took a 31-20 advantage into the locker rooms; and that lead only grew in the second half.
Employing a 1-2-2 full-court zone press, Chautauqua Lake racked up four steals (it made 12 total during the contest) on the Lady Eagles' first five offensive trips. Hewes, who is the first line of defense in the 1-2-2, made two of those four steals and scored, on fast-break layups, six of the first eight during an 11-2 run that spanned the opening four minutes of the frame.
Chautauqua Lake outscored Ellicottville 19-7 during the third quarter, and had their opponents to just two field goals.
"Our press is something that we really preach," Schuster said. "We were fortunate to get a few turnovers by Courtney just doing what she does. And yeah, we scored about six points in 40 seconds and just went from there."
Hewes, who is also a sophomore, tallied seven of 10 in the first quarter to help her team off to a solid start and then finished with eight in the third on the way to a team-high 17 points and three steals. Doyle would hit one more 3 to reach her nine-point total, Jenna Einink led with nine rebounds, four steals and three blocks in addition to her 13 points and Ashton Albanesius' strength on the low block helped her reach eight points.
For Ellicottville, meanwhile, which dropped to 1-2 on the season and is still trying to make up for time lost due to a previously earned volleyball state title, was led by Janae Hamilton with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
"We've had 17 practices, so we're not ready to play basketball," coach Tim Bergan said. "But they outplayed us all night long. The press was very distracting, they hit good shots and a bunch of 3s."
JHamilton 8 6 22, Szpaicher 2 1 6, MHamilton 2 0 5, Wilson 1 1 3, Pierce 1 0 3, Hall 1 1 3, Golley 1 0 2. Totals 16 9 44.
CHAUTAUQUA LAKE (60)
Hewes 8 0 17, Einink 5 2 13, Albanesius 4 0 8, Cummings 1 2 4, Milliman 2 0 5, Doyle 3 0 9, Hunt 0 3 3, Herrington 0 1 1. Totals 23 8 60.
3-point goals: Szpaicher, MHamilton, Pierce, Einink, Milliman, Doyle 3.
Ellicottville 10 10 7 17 - 44
Chautauqua Lake 17 14 19 10 - 60
Jayvees: Ellicottville won.