HS winter sports practices begin

by Tom Coombe -

Winter has arrived in more ways than one in the Ely area.
Mother Nature has made her mark with a series of snowfalls and sub-freezing temperatures, and the calendar indicated that the winter sports season has arrived as well.
Season-opening practices are set for Monday for Ely’s high school boys basketball, hockey and Nordic skiing squads.
The boys basketball team starts its workouts Nov. 20, and the first event is set for Friday, Nov. 24, when the hockey team hosts Kittson Central to open a two-game weekend series at the Ely Arena.
• Ely’s hockey program begins a rebuilding season of sorts, after graduation depleted the roster of a Wolves squad that finished above the .500 mark at 13-11 last winter.
Just over 20 participants are signed up for the team, which is under the leadership of head coach Ben Johnson, who in 2016-17 was named Section 7A Coach of the Year.
• The Ely Nordic Wolves won’t have to wait for snow this year as they open their campaign after a historic 2016-17 season.
Ely won the state girls championship for the first time and also boasted the state individual champion - 2017 graduate Erin Bianco.
The boys and girls programs combined to have over 50 skiers, who are led by longtime coach Paula Anderson.
Many of the Wolves will travel to West Yellowstone, Montana in late-November for preseason training. The season-opener is set for Dec. 9, in Ely, at Hidden Valley.
• The girls basketball team starts practice this week in preparation for a Nov. 30 home debut against Nashwauk-Keewatin.
Head Coach Darren Visser leads and Ely team that returns the bulk of its lineup from a squad that finished 13-13 in 2016-17.
• Boys basketball practices across Minnesota start next week and the Wolves will get ready for a Dec. 5 season tip-off with visiting Two Harbors.
Tom McDonald starts his 28th season in charge of the Ely program. The Wolves were 19-8 a year ago.