Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Ely takes 'Center' stage

Patrick Slack
Posted 2/15/17

MINNEAPOLIS - It was technically the Timberwolves’ home court.

Other than a shared name, though, it was anything but an ordinary day of basketball.

The Ely boys and girls basketball teams …

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Ely takes 'Center' stage

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MINNEAPOLIS - It was technically the Timberwolves’ home court.

Other than a shared name, though, it was anything but an ordinary day of basketball.

The Ely boys and girls basketball teams ventured to Minneapolis on Saturday, getting a taste of play under the bright lights of Target Center, home to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx professional teams.

The Ely girls opened the doubleheader with a 46-27 win over Chisholm, before the Silverstreaks boys edged the Wolves 64-59 to close the day.

Erika Mattson and Shayla Zaverl each scored 13 points to lead the Ely girls offensively, with Brielle Kallberg and Morgan Moravitz each scoring nine points and Maggie Isbell putting in four points.

Zaverl grabbed nine rebounds and Mattson and Kallberg hauled in eight rebounds apiece, with Zaverl also collecting five assists and four steals.

The Wolves were unfazed by the setting, treating the occasion as normal as possible.

“I thought our girls did an excellent job of handling the atmosphere of the Target Center,” Ely girls head coach Darren Visser said. “We had been saying all week that this was just another away game and we need to treat it that way. The girls came out and put good pressure on Chisholm right from the start and were able to get a solid lead early and maintain that lead the whole game.”

“Our team handled it well,” Zaverl said. “We communicated very well and worked as a team. The team played really well. We worked super hard to find open spots, and we played tough.”

Still, the opportunity to play on such a big stage was not lost on the players.

“The atmosphere was amazing,” Zaverl said. “Being on a big court with the lights, fans and security was cool. Even though there weren’t as many fans as a Timberwolves game, it felt like it.

“The experience was amazing. Every girl who went out on that court felt the pressure of how much this game meant to everyone. It felt different because it was a new place to play and everything was different.”

“It was a memory I’ll never forget,” junior Kalley Fischer said. “Not a lot of schools get to, especially smaller schools, but we got to and I’m glad I got to do it with the team I have.”

The game marked the second win in a row for Ely, coming off of a grueling month of January.

“After the tough January stretch we had, our focus has been on really working on trying to get back on a winning streak,” Visser said. “After beating a decent Mesabi East team on Thursday, the girls were able to keep the momentum going into Saturday. It was a great experience to play in the Target Center and to be able to come out of there with another win made the trip even that much better.”

The Ely boys came close, but could not close out the sweep, as Chisholm edged the Wolves 64-59.

Pat Vanderbeek finished with 21 points, Carter Gaulke scored 17 and Evan Omerza scored 15.

“I thought it was a great experience for them playing at that venue,” Ely boys head coach Tom McDonald said “Though there weren’t many people in there, it still had lots of atmosphere. I do think that once the game started it was just another game, though. It was a tight game and they were better than us at the end, but all in all a great experience.”

The Ely girls also notched a 55-42 win at Mesabi East on Thursday.

Kallberg tallied 20 points and Mattson scored 19 to account for the bulk of the Ely offense, with Zaverl recording eight points and four assists.

The Ely boys picked up a 66-45 win at Lakeview Christian on Tuesday and an 84-66 win at home over Mesabi East on Friday.

Gaulke scored 27 points and distributed five assists and Izaak Nosbisch scored 10 points to lead the Wolves over Lakeview.

“I thought we played great defense against a good shooting team,” McDonald said.

Omerza finished with 14 points and eight rebounds and Blaise Lah also grabbed eight rebounds versus Mesabi East.

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