Mattson steps up at the line

Senior’s free throw with no time left lifts Wolves at Cook County

by Tom Coombe
Not much went right for the Ely Timberwolves on Tuesday night, but Erika Mattson’s clutch shot three days earlier had already given her team quite a highlight.
The senior nailed a free throw after time expired to give Ely a 50-49 high school girls basketball victory Saturday over Cook County.
It was the Wolves 10th win of the season, but Cherry made them wait for victory number 11 with a dominant 63-30 triumph Tuesday in Ely.
The Tigers forced 26 Ely turnovers and held the Wolves to an eight-for-47 shooting performance while improving to 10-3.
Ely, which has an identical 10-3 mark, never really got on track.
That made Saturday’s performance against the Vikings, in Grand Marais, all the more important.
Ely erased a 16-point deficit and won while playing without a full complement of players.
“This was a game that our team showed a lot of grit and determination,” said Ely Head Coach Darren Visser. “Playing short handed, due to injuries and people being gone, our team really stepped up and rose to the challenge.”
The Wolves cut into the Vikings’ opening half lead and trimmed the gap to 27-19 by halftime.
In the second half, the Wolves came on, gained a two-point lead, only to see Cook County respond.
It set the stage for Mattson’s last second heroics.
“The lead went back and forth for the last few minutes of the game,” said Visser. “At six seconds the score was tied and we had the ball and had to go the whole length of the floor. Cook County put on a lot of pressure and as time ran out Erika launched a half court shot on which she was fouled.”
Mattson, who like most of the Wolves has struggled this winter at the free throw line, missed the first two shots.
But the senior was fouled shooting a three-pointer and was granted three shots. She nailed the third to send the Wolves home victorious.
Mattson scored a team-high 19 points while fellow senior Brielle Kallberg was next with 15.
Grace LaTourell, only in eighth grade, reached double digits with 10 points for the Wolves.
Kallberg pulled down 12 rebounds for the Wolves and eighth-grade guard Sarah Visser had six steals.
The Wolves had no answer for Cherry’s Jessa Schroetter Tuesday night.
Schroetter scored 29 points as the Tigers jumped out to an early lead and never looked back.
The Wolves, who only had eight field goals for the night, were held to just six points in the first 12 minutes and 12 points in the opening half.
Mattson poured in 17 points for the Wolves, with LaTourell (five points), Rachel Coughlin (four) and Kallberg (three) following.
Kallberg snared nine rebounds.
It gets no easier for the Wolves Saturday, when they host Duluth Marshall at 1 p.m. The Hilltoppers are ranked among the top-10 teams in the state in Class AA.