Ely girls hope to jump in 7A

by Tom Coombe
Ely’s high school girls basketball team ended the 2015-16 season on a high note, rattling off four straight wins including a playoff overtime thriller before colliding with state powerhouse Mt. Iron-Buhl.
That gives the Timberwolves something to build from as they embark on the 2016-17 season, which starts with Monday night’s home matchup with Greenway (see schedule).
En route to an 8-15 record last winter, the Wolves fielded one of youngest lineups in program history, with eighth-graders Brielle Kallberg and Erika Mattson fueling the late-season surge.
Both return and are a year older, but Ely still figures to have one of the younger teams in the section, with Susan Cook and Morgan Moravitz the only seniors who had prominent roles last year.
“We’re still young,” said Ely Head Coach Darren Visser. “But we’re seeing good things in practice, and the fact they’ve had the same coach for three years is helping them and we are stepping it up a bit and trying to take things to another level.”
The Wolves had growing pains at times last season but showed improvement, and a knack for winning close games, at the end.
“We’d like to pick up where we left off,” said Visser. “We ended up at the top of the bottom half (of Section 7A) last year, and it would be nice to get into that top half this year.“
Both Kallberg and Mattson enter on the heels of big seasons in volleyball, while junior Shayla Zaverl is both a potent scoring and rebounding threat for the Wolves.
Junior Kally Fischer is another sparkplug and provides more of what should be an Ely strength - quickness.
“We have some speed,” said Visser. “We’ll have three girls on the floor who can run with anyone and that’s one of the things we’ll try to capitalize on. Hopefully we’ll be able to put pressure on people better and just move up and down the floor better and hopefully it plays into our advantage.”
Moravitz provides strength in the backcourt for the Wolves while Cook adds to the Ely inside game.
Add sophomore guard Lida Dodge to the mix, as well as sophomore Gabi Omerza and senior Maggie Isbell, and the Wolves have the potential to have one of the deeper teams in 7A.
“I’m hoping to go eight or nine deep into the bench and get good quality,” said Visser.
While Ely remains young, overall numbers are on the rise, with 31 players overall in grades 6-12.
That’s the most in several years and bodes well for the future, with Ely reviving its junior high program this season.
The regular season schedule includes 13 home dates - two in the annual Hoops for Hope Holiday Tournament, slated for Dec. 27-28,.

Ely Wolves Girls Basketball
2016-17 Schedule
Monday: Greenway
Thursday: at Nash-Kee.
Dec. 3: at Two Harbors, noon
Dec. 10: Hill City, 1 p.m.
Dec. 12: Deer River
Dec. 19: at Chisholm
Dec. 20: at Silver Bay, 4:45 p.m.
Dec. 27: Hoops for Hope Tourney,
7:15 pm
Dec. 28: Hoops for Hope Tourney,
4:30 or 6:15 pm
Jan. 5: Nash.-Kee.
Jan. 9: Littlefork-Big Falls
Jan. 12: at Northeast Range
Jan. 14: Cook County, 1 p.m.
Jan. 17: at Cherry
Jan. 21: at Dul. Marshall, 2 p.m
Jan. 23: at Bigfork
Jan. 28: at Int. Falls, 2:45 p.m.
Feb. 2: Eveleth-Gilb.
Feb. 6: Mt. Iron-Buhl
Feb. 9: Mesabi East
Feb. 11: vs. Chisholm (at Target
Feb. 16: Northwoods
Feb. 19: Silver Bay
Feb. 23: Northeast Range
Feb. 24: South Ridge

Home games in bold
Game time 7:15 pm unless noted