ELY- Ely’s Joey Bianco hit the go-ahead bucket here with 1:33 remaining and a desperation North Woods three at the buzzer failed to connect as the Timberwolves came from 13 points down to shock …
ELY- Ely’s Joey Bianco hit the go-ahead bucket here with 1:33 remaining and a desperation North Woods three at the buzzer failed to connect as the Timberwolves came from 13 points down to shock the Grizzlies, 63-60, last Friday.
The Timberwolves took advantage of horrendous second-half shooting by North Woods to steadily cut into a 42-30 halftime deficit. The Grizzlies were an icy cold six-of-32 shooting, or 19 percent, after the break, and hit just one-of-14 from beyond the arc.
Emmett Faltesek kicked off the Ely surge with a trey, and the Timberwolves collected additional three-pointers from Bianco, Will Davies, and Harry Simons as they trimmed the gap to 51-49. Mason Davis scored on a fast break to knot the score 51-51 with seven minutes remaining.
Darius Goggleye put the Grizzlies on his shoulders over the next four minutes, scoring nine points to put the visitors back up 60-56. But two Goggleye free throws at the 3:13 mark would be the last points scored by the Grizzlies.
After the Grizzlies’ T.J. Chiabotti missed twice from the charity stripe, Brock LaTourell nailed a trey to pull Ely within one. On the Timberwolves’ next possession, Bianco muscled his way past North Woods defender Davis Kleppe to regain the lead, 61-60.
North Woods had to foul multiple times to put Ely in the one-and-one, and with only 14 seconds remaining Faltesek calmly canned a pair, forcing North Woods to go for a three to send the game to overtime. The Grizzlies got two shots at it, but both failed.
North Woods Head Coach Will Kleppe gave the Timberwolves credit for disrupting the Grizzlies’ offense in the second half to get back in the game.
“People who look at the box score figure we weren’t shooting, but we shot it plenty,” Kleppe said. “When Ely picked up their defensive intensity, we forced some shots instead of making the extra pass for one that would be a higher percentage. That’s plagued us all year. When we get a small lead and teams bring the defense we play more individually instead of as a team and that has turned some wins into losses.”
The Grizzlies’ second-half collapse marred a stellar first-half run where they outscored Ely 35-12 and turned a ten-point deficit into a 13-point lead, 39-26. Five Grizzlies scored in the streak, including five three-pointers from T.J. Chiabotti. But the effort may have taken a toll in the second half.
“Credit to our guys to make that comeback in the first half but it takes an extraordinary amount of energy to make those runs,” Kleppe said. “That showed in the second half when we started to tire out.”
Ely’s ballhandlers took away an essential element of the Grizzlies’ success this season by taking care of the ball and limiting the opportunities for North Woods to score in transition. The Timberwolves turned the ball over only ten times, compared to 16 turnovers for the Grizzlies. Ely also had more steals and deflections than North Woods.
“Ely is always a team in our report that doesn’t turn the ball over,” Kleppe said. “They did a very good job of moving the ball to open players by attacking the basket. We want to keep the turnovers under 12. Ely forced us into some double- and triple-teams and we lost possession.”
Bianco led Ely scorers with 18, and Faltesek was hot on his heels with 17. Simons also reached double figures with 11.
For the Grizzlies, Goggleye and T.J. Chiabotti tied for scoring honors with 17 each and Jared Chiabotti scored 12.
The loss marked the fourth in five games for the Grizzlies, who were scheduled to play at home on Tuesday against Silver Bay. South Ridge, the toughest opponent remaining on the Grizzlies’ schedule, will visit North Woods on Friday. The Grizzlies will close out regular season play on the road on Saturday at Mt. Iron-Buhl.
Ely was back on the court last Saturday against Nashwauk-Keewatin and lost 67-60. They were tripped up again on Monday at Greenway, 65-48. On Tuesday they toppled Lakeview Christian 88-56, are scheduled to wrap up the regular season on the road on Friday at Cherry.
Sectional tournament play for both teams will begin Thursday, March 18, with their opponents to be determined after regular season play concludes. First-round games will be played on the home court of the higher-seeded team.