For Wolves, Scott leads the way

by Tom Coombe

No matter who the Ely Timberwolves match up with this winter, there’s a good chance that the best player on the floor will be wearing an Ely uniform.<BR><BR>In senior Tim Scott - who has a chance to become one of the few players in state history to score 2,000 points and collect 1,000 rebounds -the high school boys basketball team has one of the area’s top players.<BR><BR>Scott, a three-year starter and all-conference selection and an all-area pick last year, leads the Timberwolves into the 2004-2005 campaign, which starts Tuesday night with a home game against local rival Babbitt-Embarrass (7:30 p.m., high school gymnasium).<BR><BR>The Wolves have plenty of question marks after the graduation of several seniors who helped contributed to a 14-10 season in 2003-2004, but there are no questions about the talents of Scott, who averaged 24.1 points and 10.7 rebounds per contest.<BR><BR>Ely will look to the 6-3 Scott in all areas, according to 15th-year head coach Tom McDonald.<BR><BR>“I think just having him will make us real competitive,” said McDonald. “He pretty much can do everything. He can score. He can rebound. He’s our best defender. I think one of the most important things about him is he’ll draw so much attention that the other guys will be able to step up.”<BR><BR>Scott is easily the Wolves’ biggest offensive threat, but Ely will need more scoring punch in order to match last year’s record.<BR><BR>A void was left by the graduation of Drew Hanson, both a defensive stopper and Ely’s second-leading scorer a year ago.<BR><BR>The Wolves will look down low to 6-2 senior Mike Popesh for points in the paint, and 5-10 junior Eric McDonald - the son of the head coach - can score from long range.<BR><BR>“Hopefully Eric and Popesh will give us some more scoring,” said Tom McDonald. “Popesh inside and Eric outside. And we’ve got a couple of slashing-type people in (Nick) Furnstahl and (Steve) Milkovich who can go to the basket.”<BR><BR>Milkovich (6-0) and Furnstahl (5-11), both juniors, were part of an Ely B-squad that went 19-1 last year. They’ll both move up and see varsity time.<BR><BR>Senior Kevin Hartshorn (5-11) was a valuable reserve for the Wolves last year, and fellow senior Luke Spangler (6-2) is also battling for playing time.<BR><BR>Others looking to contribute are junior Ryan Bagnal (6-3) and freshman Pat Lekatz (5-10).<BR><BR>“We have a lack of size,” said McDonald. “If we run into a big team we’re going to have some trouble.”<BR><BR>Tuesday’s game with the Knights kicks off a 23-game schedule for Ely, which again competes at the Class AA level in Minnesota’s four-division system.<BR><BR>Ely’s schedule is loaded with small-school (Class A) opponents such as Babbitt-Embarrass, Cook, Tower-Soudan, Mt. Iron-Buhl and Orr, but the docket also includes contests with AA foes such as Two Harbors, Virginia, Eveleth-Gilbert, Duluth Marshall and International Falls.<BR><BR>Section 7AA is loaded with talent, including perennial powers Crosby-Ironton and Esko and two teams - Virginia and Moose Lake-Willow River - that McDonald believes will make some noise.<BR><BR>“I would think a lot of teams think they have a chance, with us not being one of them,” said McDonald. “We could knock somebody off, but I’m hoping we can just be competitive.”