Vanderbeek, Timberwolves turn up the heat

by Tom Coombe -

Shooters keep shooting.
Ely’s Patrick Vandereek lived up to that motto this week and overcame an early cold stretch to help power the Wolves to three wins in five days as the high school boys basketball team extended its winning streak to six games.
The Ely junior knocked down some key three-pointers in a 50-43 win at Mt. Iron-Buhl on Jan. 19, and he was on fire Saturday afternoon, draining nine triples in the first half of a 58-42 victory over Duluth Marshall.
Vanderbeek had a team-high 20 points Tuesday as Ely overcame a 12-point deficit and downed Fond du Lac 64-52.
Ely, now 13-3, also had pivotal performances from guards Carter Gaulke and Adam McDonald in the wins.
Gaulke hit back-to-back clutch three-poiners against MIB, turning a one-point lead to a seven-point gap in the closing minutes.
McDonald helped fuel the comeback at Fond du Lac, knocking down three shots from beyond the arc during the rally and helping the Wolves seal it at the free throw line.
It was Vanderbeek, however, who may have turned the most heads on Saturday.
He seemingly couldn’t miss from the outside against Marshall and matched his own record with nine triples in a half. He did the same against Lake of the Woods last winter.
“I think with Pat it all depends on how they play him,” said Ely Head Coach Tom McDonald. “When the opponent face guards him we have a hard time getting him shots in our offense but when teams play a little more loosely against him he can free up for his shot. He definitely kept us in the game against Marshall though and we ran offense well for him and screened well for him to get him open.”
Vanderbeek hit consecutive three-pointers in the last 15 seconds of the first half to give Ely a 33-28 lead at the break.
The Wolves never looked back and cruised to the win over the Class AA team.
Senior Blaise Lah snared 11 rebounds against the Hilltoppers, while McDonald had nine assists and seven steals. Gaulke dished out seven assists.
The Wolves prevailed in a defensive struggle at MIB.
Ely led at the half and opened a lead as large as nine points in the second stanza, but the Rangers (7-10) fought their way back with Joe Buffetta leading the charge.
It was 39-38 with under four minutes left, but Gaulke answered in a big way for the Wolves.
He hit a pair of three-pointers to make it 45-38 and the Wolves iced the game at the free throw line.
Gaulke had 23 points for the Wolves, with all but five points coming in the second half. He added six rebounds and five steals as well.
Vanderbeek scored 21 points, all on three-pointers. McDonald was held to five points but he added nine rebounds and five assists.
The Wolves needed to overcome a slow start to win Tuesday’s game against Fond du Lac.
“We trailed most of the game and didn’t shoot the ball well in the first half,” said McDonald. “We were down 25-13 at one point in the first half and 39-28 in the second half before we started to put some good possessions together on both ends of the floor.”
Vandberbeek and Gaulke had 20 points each to lead the way, with Gaulke adding five assists as well. Adam McDonald’s hot streak in the second half proved important to Ely’s comeback. He finished with 18 points and Lah pulled down nine rebounds.
The Wolves also shot free throws well, hitting 18-of-23 in the second half, many in the final minutes.
The win streak has put the Wolves in an enviable position in Section 7A. They are now second behind Northwoods in the north half of the section. The Grizzlies remain unbeaten and rated first in the state in Class A.
“It has been a surprising stretch here though as we have run into some pretty good teams that are playing well but we have weathered the storm against them,” said Tom McDonald. “I think it has been a combination of timely shooting and we are still playing well defensively.”