Wolves win holiday crown

Bianco, Davies power Ely boys to home tournament victories

by Tom Coombe
In a matter of weeks, Joey Bianco and Jack Davies have become a potent - and winning - combination for Ely’s high school boys basketball team.
That was evident this week in the Wolves’ home holiday tournament.
The hosts won the four-team event, with Bianco pouring in a career-high 36 points and taking over the title tilt - a 63-37 Wolves win over Bigfork.
Bianco also had 21 points the night before in a 77-32 first-round win over Mille Lacs, but Davies showed off his shooting abilities as well while knocking down eight three-point baskets.
Six of those triples came in the first half as Ely rolled to a commanding lead and never looked back.
Only an eighth-grader, Davies led all scorers with 26 points.
The wins extended Ely’s victory streak to three and the Wolves are 6-2 heading into a Jan. 7 showdown with Section 7A contender.
Bianco, an All-Arrowhead Conference guard, has been the glue for an Ely team that continues to play without its only other returning starter - injured senior Harry Simons.
In eight games, Bianco has been the Wolves’ top scorer and rebounder while directing the Ely offense from the point guard position.
The Wolves have looked for more scoring punch to make up for Simons’ absence, and Davies has delivered, scoring 23 in a pre-Christmas win over Cook County and canning open shots in the holiday rout of Mille Lacs.
Senior Mason Davis has also come on for the Wolves, scoring 12 points in the opening round win while junior Erron Anderson added nine points and added a presence underneath the basket.
The Wolves pressured Mille Lacs into more than 30 turnovers on Tuesday but figured to have a tougher time against Bigfork, which beat Cook County with ease in the opening round.
But Bianco quickly established control, taking the ball to the hoop and attacking the Bigfork defense.
Ely led 31-22 at halftime and held the Huskies to just 15 second-half points.
Davis reached double figures for a second straight night but no other Ely player scored more than four points.
Because of absences and injuries, longtime coach Tom McDonald worked with a limited roster of only nine players, but reserves including junior Jake Cochran and Gunnar Hart, sophomore Gavin Marshall and freshman Caid Chittum all provided valuable minutes during the tournament.
• Ely will be looking to pull the upset on Friday and hopes to knock off a North Woods team that is ranked 11th in the state in Class A and has won seven straight games. The Grizzlies beat number-10 Nevis in a St. Cloud holiday tournament contest on Wednesday.