Boys bounce back at home;Davies, Vandberbeek lead late surges as Ely pulls away from Bigfork

by Tom Coombe -

A spark from a sophomore, some solid defense and clutch free throw shooting helped the Ely Timberwolves get back on the winning track Tuesday night.
Will Davies scored eight second-half points, all of them crucial, in a 64-53 high school boys basketball victory over Bigfork at the Memorial Gymnasium.
Ely, which ended a two-game losing streak, saw an 18-point lead whittled to one late in the second half when Davies delivered.
His three-pointer from the left wing with four minutes left gave the Wolves a 51-47 lead, and senior Patrick Vanderbeek followed with a triple of his own to make it a seven-point lead.
Vanderbeek, who scored 24 points and was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line, iced the Wolves’ seventh win with a series of free throws in the last three minutes.
The Wolves had a strong start and stymied the Huskies in a dominant first half, but they went ice cold in the second stanza.
Ely went without a point for more than six minutes while the Huskes turned to senior star Carter Cook, who had most of his game-high 27 points in the second half, as well as 6-6 center Liam Prato.
That’s when the Wolves turned to Davies, who hit a pair of three-pointers in the second half and scored on a drive to the basket.
“I thought the key in the game was Will coming in and hitting some big shots for us,’ said Ely Head Coach Tom McDonald. “.They kept their big kid in the lane all night and it was difficult for us to get anything at the basket but Will came in and got us going with his eight points. I doubt we win without him stepping up offensively and he did a nice job for us on the defensive end also and took a charge to foul out one of their starters.”
Early on, it was all-Ely, with Vanderbeek and Trevor Mattson burning the Huskies from the outside and the Wolves feeding Collen Seliskar underneath.
The Wolves jumped to an 18-point edge and led 36-21 at the break, while largely holding Cook in check and forcing the rest of the Huskies into poor percentage shots.
“We played very well in the first half on both ends of the floor to take the 16-point lead but they got the momentum early in the second half and we couldn’t do anything offensively to stop it,” said McDonald.
Cook, who fell one point shy of reaching the 2,000-point career scoring milestone in the game, found his range from outside while Ely failed to establish an inside game in the second stanza.
Ely was an uncharacteristic 21-for-59 from the floor and was in danger of losing the game before Davies’ key contribution.
Dylan Fenske had eight rebounds for the Wolves while Mattson had seven, and guard Eric Omerza had five assists.
The Wolves are in the midst of a brutal January stretch that included a home game last night against Mt. Iron-Buhl, a Saturday visit to Class AA Duluth Marshall and Tuesday’s home game with dangerous Fond du Lac.
Nash.-Kee. 67, Wolves 52
The Wolves never found the range from the outside, going one-for-18 from three-point distance, and the young Spartans unveiled a variety of weapons to pull the upset.
Jack Lorenz, N-K’s 6-4 center, dominated in the paint in the first half while Jager Nash buried three straight triples in a key second-half run.
The Spartans extended an eight-point lead to 27, at 63-36, before the Wolves made a late run.
“I thought NK did a nice job of defending us and we really struggled offensively all night,” said McDonald. “I thought Dylan kept us close in the first half but they shot the ball well and pulled away from us. We aren’t going to win many games shooting that poorly. NK has a nice big team and I thought they played very well against us.”
Lorenz had 19 points and Nash finished with 18 for the Spartans (6-5).
Vanderbeek had a team-high 21 points for the Wolves, while Fenske had a double-double, contributing 18 points and 10 rebounds. Omerza was next with 10 points.