Wolves shoot down Grizzlies
by Tom Coombe
Ely’s high school basketball team has eight victories this winter, but none bigger than last Friday’s home win over North Woods.
After lopsided victories over a series of overmatched foes, the Timberwolves stepped up and scored a 65-49, Jan. 6 decision over the perennially-strong Grizzlies.
Freshman Jack Davies scored a game-high 27 points, including four three-point shots during a second-half run that decided the game.
Senior Joey Bianco also continued a brilliant season for the Wolves, netting 17 points and recording a triple-double with 11 rebounds and 10 assists as Ely made a statement of sorts about it standing within Section 7A.
“I think it’s always a good thing when we can beat North Woods as we haven’t had a whole lot of success against them over the years,” said Ely Head Coach Tom McDonald. “A victory over a quality opponent is important as I think it shows we can play with most teams.”
Backed by one of the larger crowds to witness an Ely game in recent seasons, the Wolves got off to a solid start, opening up a double-digit lead late in the first half with Bianco driving the bus.
The two-time All-Arrowhead Conference guard found success driving to the hoop, and Ely was feisty on defense, never allowing the Grizzlies to get into a rhythm.
The Wolves led by as many as 12 at 29-17 and held a 33-25 lead at the break.
North Woods (6-4) wouldn’t go away quietly and the Grizzlies clawed their way back and tied the game at 42 with about 10 minutes to go.
Ely took a timeout and quickly regrouped.
Davies, who scored 17 second-half points, hit a three-pointer and then another and the Wolves were on their way.
“Jack hit some big shots in the last nine minutes,” said McDonald, “He hit four ‘threes’ in that time span. We were really struggling offensively before that and he broke it open for us.”
Ely’s defense and rebounding were also pivotal, as the Wolves outfought a taller North Woods team to get second shots and contained a prolific Grizzlies offense.
“Erron (Anderson) had nine rebounds and Caid (Chittum) had 10, including a couple of key offensive rebounds in the second half that kept possessions alive,” said McDonald. “And I think the key to the game was our continued pressure on defense. We knew they would make a run at us but we withstood that and played excellent defense down the stretch to pull away.”
Bianco also had five steals for the Wolves, who have home games Monday (Cook County) Tuesday (Bigfork) and Friday (Mt. Iron-Buhl) this week.
* Ely dominated at Coleraine Tuesday night, racing to a 41-16 halftime lead and blowing out Greenway 69-39.
Bianco scored 30 points and had eight assists to lead the way as the Wolves improved to 8-1.
Senior Jason Kerntz poured in 18 points and Anderson finished with nine rebounds for the winners.