Balanced attack, perfect start

Ely boys cruise past MIB and Bigfork to open 2021 season

by Tom Coombe
Opposing teams are finding out quickly that they can’t focus their defensive attention on just one or two Ely Timberwolves.
Indeed, the Wolves’ entire lineup is capable of scoring in bunches.
That’s one big reason why the high school boys basketball team is off to an impressive 2-0 start.
All five starters scored in double figures as the Wolves dominated the second half en route to a Jan. 15, season-opening, 75-58 triumph over Mt. Iron-Buhl.
The same held true Saturday, as sophomore Joey Bianco poured in 26 points and four other starters reached double-digits in a 95-50 blowout of Bigfork.
While Nashwauk-Keewatin, North Woods and even Mt. Iron-Buhl commanded much of the preseason attention in Section 7A, the Wolves showed in the season’s opening weekend that they’ll be a force to contend with.
“It’s a little bit of a surprise that we have started 2-0,” said head coach Tom McDonald. “We played great team basketball though on both days and I thought our defense was good in both games. I really like the balance we had offensively, with all five starters getting into double figures in both games.”
Mt. Iron-Buhl, led by sophomore sensation Asher Zubich, won 15 games last winter and was ranked ninth in the state by Class A.
Zubich buried a long-range three-pointer early in the contest and the teams traded momentum for much of the first half.
The second half, however, belonged to the Wolves, with Emmett Faltesek scoring 21 points and joining Harry Simons (15) and Bianco (11) in attacking the Ranger defense.
Senior Will Davies opened the season with 14 points but his most impressive statistic came underneath, where he secured 18 rebounds - all on the defensive end.
Fellow senior Brock LaTourell added 12 points and Bianco dished out 10 assists.
“I was a bit worried about our conditioning but I thought our guys held up pretty well,” said McDonald. ‘MIB had everyone back from last year so we were hoping to be competitive with them but I thought we just did such a nice job on defense against them and didn’t give them too many opportunities. Mason Davis also gave us great minutes off the bench.”
Zubich was held to 15 points for the Rangers.
Ely bolted out to 20-point lead within four minutes into Saturday’s contest with Bigfork and never looked back.
It was 53-20 by halftime and the final nine minutes were played in running time as the Wolves flirted with the century mark.
Bianco’s 26-point afternoon led all scorers and the sophomore finished with six rebounds and seven assists as well.
Davies contributed 22 points to the cause and Faltesek was next with 15 to go with nine assists.
Simons notched 14 points and six rebounds and LaTourell came up with 10 points.
Ely met Littlefork-Big Falls Friday and has a Jan. 29 road trip to Eveleth-Gilbert on tap.