Bianco scores 39 for Ely boys
by Tom Coombe
In a season-opening win last month, Ely’s high school boys basketball team showed off its balance with five starters scoring in double figures.
More recently, the Timberwolves have proven those starters can be explosive as well.
The latest was sophomore Joey Bianco, who erupted for a career-high 34 points Tuesday in an 84-58 win over Lakeview Christian Academy.
Bianco took it right at the Lions during the matchup at Cotton, and they had no answer as Ely pulled away in the second half for its second straight victory.
“Joey had 19 two-pointers and most were attacking the basket in transition,” said Ely Head Coach Tom McDonald. “He was also in the post offensively and I thought his teammates did a good job finding him in there.”
Bianco nearly reached the 40-point milestone and displayed that Ely opponents face a tough dilemma: defending against a lineup that features several potent scorers.
Emmett Faltesek led the Wolves with 23 points in an 82-71 home win over Mesabi East on Feb. 5, while Harry Simons scored 20 in the same contest.
Earlier in the year, Will Davies scored 27 points in a game with Eveleth-Gilbert while fellow senior Brock LaTourell topped 20 points during games in the 2019-20 season.
“It has been nice as we have had four players at some point in time with at least twenty points so it is difficult for the other team to just key on one of our players,” said McDonald.
Ely (5-2) led 34-23 at the break against Lakeview Christian Academy and didn’t let up in the second stanza.
Simons scored 16 points and had seven rebounds, while Bianco fell a rebound shy of a double-double.
After leading the Wolves in scoring against Mesabi East, Faltesek distributed the ball well and led his team with nine assists.
Wolves 82, Mesabi East 71
A 16-2 run in the second half set the tone, and sent the Wolves on to the home win.
Ely led early in the Arrowhead Conference contest but the bigger Giants rallied and took a 40-39 edge at the break.
It was 55-51 Mesabi East midway through the second half when the tide turned.
Ely created turnovers, scored in transition and warmed up from long range.
The Giants were never able to slow the Wolves’ run and the hosts soon held a double-digit advantage that was key the rest of the way.
Faltesek scored 23 points and added six rebounds and four assists, while Bianco had 20 points to go with eight rebounds and seven assists.
Simons also had 20 points while Davis recorded nine rebounds and six assists.
Faltesek and Simons combined for seven of the Wolves’ eight three-pointers.
Senior Hunter Hannuksela poured in 25 points to lead Mesabi East, while teammates Cody Fallstron (15) and Brayden Leffel (14) also hit double digits.
As Ely reaches the midpoint of the season, it is looking to climb in what is a very deep list of Section 7A contenders.
“I think we are playing OK,” said McDonald. “We will need to get better on the defensive end as we have lapses there which have hurt us. Our shooting has been streaky and I think to compete against the top teams in the section we will have to not only defend better but will have to shoot better. The guys are playing well together and playing hard though.”
• The Wolves travel to Mt. Iron-Buhl Tuesday and return home for a Feb. 19 tilt with 7A rival Chisholm.