Skip to main content

Boys bounce back after loss

Ely boys basketball team will be back in action at home this week. Echo file photos by Eric Sherman.

by Tom Coombe

For the Ely Timberwolves, it’s so far, so good.

Despite a lineup that includes no seniors and only two returning starters, the high school boys basketball team is off to a 4-1 start this winter, including Tuesday’s 56-53 win at Cook County.

The nonconference victory didn’t come easily.

Ely lost a double-digit second-half lead and fell behind late in the contest, only to pull ahead on two free throws by sophomore Drew Johnson with 1:50 to play.

After a Vikings miss, Caid Chittum scored on a drive to the hoop and the Wolves weathered a Cook County storm in the final minute to hold on.

The win came four days after Ely fell, at home, 63-54 to Mesabi East.

“I thought it was a big win for us coming off the loss to Mesabi East and to beat a decent team on the road was a good thing for us,” said head coach Tom McDonald.

After an evenly-matched opening half, the Wolves warmed up in the second stanza. The visitors turned a 31-28 halftime edge into a 43-32 advantage.

While Jack Davies (19 points) and Chittum (14) topped the Wolves in scoring, Ely also got a boost from junior Wyatt Mattson.

Mattson scored eight of his 12 points in the second half, scoring layups off of feeds from Johnson and Chittum.

The Vikings clawed their way back later in the half, with Rohan Rude warming up from the outside and Denali Blackwell adding a pair of three-point buckets.

Cook County took a 53-52 lead late in the game but misfired on further opportunities as Ely cranked up its defense.

Davies had seven rounds and six steals to go with his 19 points, while Chittum snared nine rebounds.

Johnson got the game-winning points and finished with seven while dishing out a game-high nine assists and adding seven rebounds.

Blackwell buried six triples for the Vikings and scored 20 to lead his team, while 6-4 Recko Halverson-Skildum finished with 14 points.

Cook County, which is part of this week’s holiday tournament in Ely, fell to 1-4 but three of the losses have been by three points or less.

Ely had trouble matching up with Mesabi East’s size and had a difficult night from the perimeter in the Dec. 15 home clash.

Chittum led the Wolves with 23 points while Davies was next with 11 and Trenton Bishop scored nine.

Johnson added 11 rebounds and Chittum also contributed six rebounds and five steals.

Ely made things interesting late in the contest, cutting a 20-point gap to single digits in the final minutes.

“We will have a long way to go to become more competitive but I think we are slowly growing up on the court,” said McDonald. “We still need to fix some things and hopefully we will shoot better as the year progresses. I thought we played really well defensively in the second half of the Mesabi East game and for most of the game in Grand Marais. I think our defense will need to keep us in games in which we aren’t shooting well. ”

The Wolves will host Class AA Two Harbors at 7 p.m. Thursday in the opening round of the home holiday tournament (see related story), and they’ll close things out at 4 p.m. Friday against section rival Bigfork.

Sign up for News Alerts

Subscribe to news updates