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Chisholm the nemesis, again; Bluestreaks score last nine points, oust Ely from 7A boys tournament
by Tom Coombe -
The Chisholm Bluestreaks have the Ely Timberwolves’ number.
That much seemed certain Wednesday at the Hibbing Memorial Building, where Chisholm downed Ely 62-49 and knocked the Wolves out of the Section 7A tournament for a second straight year.
It was Chisholm’s fourth straight victory over the Wolves, dating back to last season’s 42-41 playoff victory and three wins in less than a month this season, including an overtime tilt in Ely and a Feb. 11 bout at Target Center that was decided in the final minute.
The most recent battle was closer than the final score might indicate, as the Bluestreaks closed the game with a 9-0 run after Ely pulled to within 53-49 with four minutes left.
Ely, which finished 19-8, seemed poised to pull closer but Chisholm’s Eli Sundquist came up with a steal and a basket that turned momentum back the Bluestreaks’ way.
The Wolves never scored again and Chisholm improved to 17-10 while advancing to Saturday’s 7A quarterfinals and a meeting with top-seeded Northwoods (26-1).
Sundquist paced Chisholm with 17 points, with 15 coming on five three-point baskets in the first half.
The Bluestreaks led 34-26 at the break with Chisholm mixing Sundquist’s outside shooting with a patient offense that created several layups for Jake Pessenda and Adam Varda. Chisholm worked the clock before the end of the half and Varda nailed a baseline jumper to extend the gap to eight points at the break.
For the second time in as many games, the Bluestreaks also bottled up sophomore sharpshooter Patrick Vanderbeek of Ely, holding him to a pair of three-point baskets and six points overall.
Guards Carter Gaulke and Evan Omerza picked up some of the slack.
Gaulke, a junior, had 19 points for the Wolves while Omerza helped keep his team close in the final stanza.
The senior guard had 10 of his 16 points in the second stanza, including a pair of three-point baskets.
Chisholm, which was seeded fourth in the north half of 7A, opened up a 53-44 lead on the Wolves with about six minutes left.
Gaulke was fouled on a three-point attempt and drained all three free throws, and Omerza followed with a bucket to close the gap to four.
Chisholm took timeout, but Ely forced a turnover on the ensuing possession.
Sundquist then delivered his game-changing steal, adding a basket and injuring his back on the play.
After a brief delay, Harrison Reinke came off the bench to hit the free throw, and Ely’s momentum seemed to evaporate.
Chisholm turned a missed Ely shot into a basket by Pessenda, who poured in a game-high 20 points, and the Wolves were all but finished.
Grayson Hartshorn, a 6-5 senior, had 10 points and helped Chisholm maintain an edge inside.
Varda had 14 points for the winners.
The loss ended a 19-win season for the Wolves, one played without the services of senior Josh Heiman, a multisport standout and returning starter who missed the entire year with an ankle injury.
The game marked the end of the prep basketball careers of Ely seniors Omerza, Izaak Nosbisch, Braxton Casey, Zach Dean and Felipe Reis.
• Four Wolves scored in double figures as Ely finished the regular season Mar. 3 with an 81-47 home rout of Northeast Range.
In Ely, 23 points from Carter Gaulke and 20 points from Evan Omerza led the Timberwolves over the Nighthawks in the final game of both teams’ seasons, with the final score 81-47.
The Wolves completed the regular season sweep with ease, leading 43-31 by halftime and burying nine three-pointers, five by Vanderbeek.
Gaulke scored a team-high 23 piont sand Omerza finished with 20 in his final home game. Junior Adam McDonald also had 10 points.
Aaron Saari contributed 23 points for Northeast Raange, which fell 113-38 to Northwoods on Thursday and finished 5-18.
The Nighthawks slipped past Cherry 49-46 in a play-in round game on Monday.