By Tom Robinson, NEPAElite.com
UNCASVILLE, Conn. – The NEPA Elite Clark 17U team delivered a repeat performance Wednesday through Friday during The Hoop Group Girls Live in New England.
NEPA Elite made it through four rounds of bracket play to the championship game where it suffered its only loss of the event while placing second in the 17U Orange Division Championship bracket.
The second-place finish was part of an impressive final 16 days of the season for a team that had struggled at the start.
In its last three events, NEPA Elite was placed into competition with 59 other teams and finished ahead of 57 of them by going 4-1 three straight times. The team out of Riverfront Sports in Scranton won its six-team pool at Select Events Basketball’s East Coast Summer Showcase, took second out of 24 teams in the Hoop Group Showcase League Championships and was second out of 32 teams at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.
NEPA Elite won 12 of its final 15 games to finish 21-18. It had opened the season 1-8 and was 8-14 as of mid-June, before recovering to improve the team’s record to 73-30, a .709 winning percentage, in its three-year history.
A recap of Friday’s semifinal and final round:
NEPA Elite Clark 17U 66, New Jersey Gemz 17U Select-Truhan 44
Kiyomi McMiller scored 19 of her game-high 28 points in the first half of the semifinal in which NEPA Elite avenged its only loss from the East Coast Summer Showcase.
McMiller had 17 points in the first 10:45 and teammates joined in the scoring during a 23-6 surge over the last eight minutes of the first half.
NEPA Elite went 5-for-7 from 3-point range while stretching the lead to 42-21 before the Gemz closed the half with a 3-pointer. The team was 16-for-26 (61.5 percent) overall from the floor while building the 18-point halftime lead.
McMiller scored the first 5 points and 10 total in the run, which also included 3-pointers by Sophia Talutto, Emily Romanowski and Ella Wilson. Talutto and Romanowski also added other baskets for five points each during the run.
NEPA Elite’s shooting cooled considerably in the second half, but the team was so strong in other areas that the 2-for-14 start did not matter.
With less than seven minutes remaining in the game, NEPA Elite still had not committed a turnover or allowed an offensive rebound in the second half. It only committed four turnovers total in the game and had allowed just three offensive rebounds up to that point pushing the lead to the game’s largest at 57-32.
Talutto was 4-for-6 coming off the bench to add 10.
Mackenzie Perluke added eight points, eight rebounds and three steals.
Romanowski had seven points, eight rebounds and three assists.
McMiller also led the team in assists (four) and steals (two).
New Jersey Shoreshots 17U HGSL 72, NEPA Elite Clark 17U 45
New Jersey heated up from 3-point range and NEPA Elite’s shooting went cold, turning a close championship game into a romp for the Shoreshots, who had been knocked off by 17th-seeded NEPA Elite as the top seed at the HGSL Championships.
The Shoreshots missed their first five attempts from long range as NEPA Elite twice built six-point leads on scores by Perluke.
New Jersey went 3-for-8 the rest of the half and arrived at the break with a 33-31 lead in a game that had already featured four lead changes and three ties.
McMiller’s drive tied the game again to open the second half, then NEPA Elite missed 15 of its next 16 shots.
New Jersey ran off nine straight points, then, after a Wilson 3-pointer, 15 more for a 24-3 run to a 57-36 lead.
The Shoreshots were 6-for-11 from 3-point range in the second half.
Cadie Lewis, the only rising senior on the squad that otherwise featured players competing above their age, opened her final game in the NEPA Elite program by going 3-for-3 with a pair of 3-pointers for eight points in the first 3:45 to build a 12-8 lead.
Perluke had a game-high 16 points, including 13 in the first half. She also had three steals.
McMiller had 14 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
Romanowski led the team in rebounds (seven) and steals (four).
McMiller is from Silver Spring, Md. Lewis and Talutto are from Dunmore. Perluke is from Wyoming Valley West; Wilson from Lake-Lehman and Romanowski from Western Wayne.
The 13U team finished a successful first full season with a second straight title against older competition: Youngest NEPA Elite group continues to excel – NEPA Elite Basketball.
Return to this website for more coverage wrapping up the program’s third season.