Vanderbeek fires up Wolves; Senior guard scores 33, 44 in back-to-back wins for Ely boys

A RED-HOT SHOOTING performance for Ely senior Patrick Vanderbeek, who nailed eight three-point shots and had 44 points in the Wolves’ win over Fond du Lac. Photos by Eric Sherman

by Tom Coombe -

When Patrick Vanderbeek gets hot, the Ely Timberwolves seem to follow suit.
That was the formula Tuesday, as Ely’s senior standout made five three-point baskets in the first five minutes, seven in the first half en route to a career-high 44 points as the high school boys basketball team hammered visiting Fond du Lac 84-66.
Vanderbeek, a 5-7 guard, also had 33 points in the Wolves’ impressive 72-56 victory at Class AA Duluth Marshall Saturday.
The two-game winning streak allowed Ely to improve to 9-6 on the season, and ease some of the sting from a 69-63, Jan. 18 home loss to Mt. Iron-Buhl.
While Vanderbeek gets much of the attention, head coach Tom McDonald said another factor has also been pivotal in the Wolves’ climb to the number-five spot, among 19 teams, in Section 7A.
“We have been playing very good defense in the last two games and that has been the difference in us winning,” said Ely Head Coach Tom McDonald. “I thought we broke down defensively in the second half of the MIB game and gave them way too many good looks. Sometimes our shooting is not very good and at those times we need to play better defense, which we did not do against MIB.”
The Ely defense set the tone and Vanderbeek did the rest early on against Fond du Lac.
Ely led 14-0 and 17-2, but the Ogichidaag, who had upset Chisholm four days earlier, clawed their way back in and trailed 38-30 at halftime.
The Wolves nearly blew a double-digit lead against Bigfork and lost a nine-point advantage against MIB, but they had no second-half letdown Tuesday.
“We bogged down offensively in that time period and had nine turnovers by halftime which allowed them to creep right back into it,” said McDonald. “We settled down in the second half and continued to pull away from them even though their good shooting kept things close.”
Juniors Dylan Fenske and Eric Omerza nearly had double-doubles. Both had 12 points while Fenske had nine rebounds and Omerza dished out eight assists.
Seniors Trevor Mattson and Collen Seliskar had six rebounds each for the Wolves.
Ely overcame Duluth Marshall’s height and athleticism and defeated the Class AA opponent with a strong second half.
The Wolves, behind consistent play from Vanderbeek, built a lead late in the first half and opened it to double digits in the second stanza.
Ely also had some offensive balance, with Fenske scoring 14 points with nine rebounds, and Mattson going beyond the arc to nail three triples on the way to a 13-point afternoon.
Omerza had eight points, Seliskar had eight rebounds and Vanderbeek also found the open man to come up with five asissts.
The Wolves overcame an 18-point afternoon from the Hilltoppers’ Matthew Erickson. Samuel Lohn added 15 points.
An early lead didn’t hold up at home, and eighth-grader Asher Zubich burned the Wolves.
Zubich came up with clutch shot after clutch shot in the Rangers’ comeback, scoring the bulk of his 31 points in the second half.
Fenske had eight rebounds and Vanderbeek had six assists for the Wolves, who host Cook County at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and travel to Eveleth-Gilbert three nights later.