HIBBING- Dylan Fenske kept the Timberwolves rolling in the first half and Eric Omerza and company took over in the second as Ely defeated Mt. Iron-Buhl 73-58 in a Class A Section 7 tournament battle …
HIBBING- Dylan Fenske kept the Timberwolves rolling in the first half and Eric Omerza and company took over in the second as Ely defeated Mt. Iron-Buhl 73-58 in a Class A Section 7 tournament battle on Saturday in Hibbing.
Ely fans could be forgiven for believing early on that this game was going to be a rout. A Fenske bucket at the 10:38 mark put the Timberwolves up by a commanding 16-3 margin, as the hapless Rangers couldn’t buy a bucket.
Yet in less than two minutes, an 11-0 Rangers run that included three three-pointers had everyone on the edge of their seats as the Rangers suddenly trailed by just two, 16-14.
Six different Ely players scored as the Timberwolves rebuilt a 16-point lead late in the first half, capped by a Harry Simons bucket that made the score 37-21. However, a late trey by Mt. Iron’s Asher Zubich was a sign the Rangers were still dangerous.
That became apparent seven minutes into the second half when consecutive three-pointers by Jeffrey Kayfes pulled the Rangers back to within four, 48-44.
But that was as close as they would get. Omerza scored on consecutive possessions to ignite a 15-6 Timberwolves run over the next five minutes. Emmett Faltesek notched two baskets along the baseline and Brock Latourell nailed a three-pointer to complete the surge to a 13-point lead, 63-50, with just over four minutes to play. The Rangers responded with two more treys, but went scoreless in the game’s final two minutes as Ely played keep-away with an effective spread offense.
The Rangers stayed in the game by hitting 11 three-pointers, and Ely Head Coach Tom McDonald acknowledged their effort.
“They’re a good young team and they shoot the ball well,” McDonald said. “We could never quite shake them. I think the difference was they were hitting a lot of threes and we went cold there for a while. I thought we took good shots. We just couldn’t hit them.”
As they’ve done all season, when things got tight, the Timberwolves used defensive pressure to generate the scoring opportunities they needed for the win.
“That’s the one thing our kids do is work really hard, and we have to because sometimes the other team has more talent than us,” McDonald said. “I think we’ve had success this year because we really get after it on the defensive end.”
Fenske scored 14 first-half points on the way to 20 for the game to lead Ely offensively. Quiet in the first half, Omerza exploded for 14 in the second to finish with 16. Latourell dropped in 15 and Faltesek added 12.
With the win the Timberwolves earned a trip to the sectional semifinals on Wednesday, March 18, against North Woods. The Grizzlies won their regular season matchup 77-66. Tip-off is set for 7:15 p.m. at Hibbing Memorial Arena.