By Tom Robinson, NEPAElite.com
EAST STROUDSBURG – Ben Chilson was the first to get going offensively Sunday morning in The Hoop Group Summer Warm Up.
That was no accident.
Chilson was the last player to leave East Stroudsburg University’s Koehler Fieldhouse Saturday night, putting up dozens of extra shots while his mother retrieved rebounds. He was attempting to relocate his shot after going without a field goal in five attempts, including four from 3-point range, in the Saturday night game.
The extra work paid off as Chilson controlled the game early with an effort that helped the NEPA Elite Coyle 17U boys team have a shot at the 2023 Division Pool A title all the way until the final possession before falling to New Heights from New York City, 56-55.
The two teams went into the final game of pool play with 2-0 records and tied for first out of four teams in Pool A.
Chilson helped NEPA Elite open a 14-point lead in the first half before New Heights rallied for the victory.
Taking the exact same number of shots of each type that had produced just one point in Saturday night’s win, Chilson scored 13 points in the first 12 minutes. He went 3-for-4 from 3-point range, made his other attempt from the floor and connected on both free throw attempts.
Chilson did more than shoot.
During those 12 minutes, he also pulled down 7 rebounds, made 2 steals, had an assist and blocked a shot.
NEPA Elite seemed to be taking control with a 13-2 run to a 32-18 lead in the final minute of the half.
Chilson scored eight of the points and Cumbo had the other five in the run, which concluded with Cumbo hitting a 3-pointer off a Chilson feed for his second assist.
After also adding two more rebounds before the half ended, Chilson went on to finish with a double-double of 20 points and 13 rebounds. He finished 5-for-7 on 3-pointers and had another assist.
Cumbo also went 5-for-7 on 3-pointers while scoring 19 points. He made four straight attempts from long range, adding three to begin the second half to try to fight off the New Heights rally. He went 4-for-5 on 3-pointers after halftime.
An 11-2 New Heights run closed the gap.
A streak of seven straight points created the first of seven lead changes that went along with three ties during the final nine minutes.
Chilson’s 3-pointer with 1:40 left gave NEPA Elite its last lead and he grabbed a defensive rebound 10 seconds later, but the team could not score again and a final shot with about two seconds left was off the mark.
Will Marion had the first 5 NEPA Elite points and 8 of the team’s first 11. Those points made him the team’s third-leading scorer in the game.
Zach Perta led the team in assists with four and steals with three.
Gabe Tanner blocked two shots and made two steals.
NEPA Elite finished second of four teams in the Pool at 2-1.
Chilson is from Tunkhannock, Cumbo is from Dallas, Marion from Abington Heights and Perta from Holy Redeemer. Tanner, who had been at Mid Valley, is headed to Perkiomen School in the fall.
A recap of how the other teams did on the second of two days of the Summer Warm Up:
NEPA Elite Cooper 17U
The NEPA Elite Cooper 17U boys team picked up a forfeit in its final 2023 Division Pool D game when the New York Rens were a no-show for the early-morning game.
That left NEPA Elite, the New York Rens and Tokyo Samurai Black tied for first in the pool at 2-1.
NEPA Elite ended up playing two exhibition games and winning both.
After routing an overmatched opponent, NEPA Elite added a 59-53 victory over BWC Playmakers from London, England.
James Pettinato had a 20-point first half to help NEPA Elite to a 36-29 lead at the break against BWC.
Mason Fedor had 10 points in the second half with a hand in 7 straight baskets, scoring 5 and assisting the other 2.
Patrick Walsh, Fedor and Dane Schutter led the team’s rebounding efforts while Joe Macciocco had six assists.
Walsh and Fedor are from Abington Heights. Pettinato is from Scranton Prep, Schutter from Wyoming Area and Macciocco from Old Forge.
NEPA Elite Joyce 16U
Canada Elite 4th Quarter White relied on relentless defensive pressure to force 30 turnovers and recovered from a poor shooting start to rally past NEPA Elite Joyce 16U in a 2024 Division consolation game, 55-49.
Canada Elite went 6-for-12 on 3-pointers from early in the second half on after starting 1-for-10.
NEPA Elite had held Canada Elite without a field goal for 8:28 while turning an early, 4-0 deficit into an 11-5 lead.
The lead grew as high as eight twice late in the first half before Canada Elite went on a 12-0 run to take the lead.
Ricky Vinansky’s 3-pointer gave NEPA Elite its last lead, 31-29, with 11:05 left.
NEPA Elite used a four-point play by Brycen Martin and then a Martin assist for a Jalik Nicholls fastbreak basket to score six straight points and get back within 46-44 with 1:50 left.
Robby Lucas hit a 3-pointer and Nichols made both ends of a one-and-one for five more in a row to make it 52-49 with 12 seconds left, but Canada Elite went 3-for-4 at the line to clinch the win.
Vinansky scored a team-high 14 points.
Martin and Lucas added 11 each.
Nichols, who grabbed eight rebounds, and Chase Scanlan, who went 3-for-4 from the floor, added six points each.
George Sabatini led the team with nine rebounds.
Martin had a team-high four assists and joined Nicholls, Sabatini and Charlie O’Malley with two steals each.
David Popson and Nicholas Williams each blocked two shots.
Martin and Scanlan are from Scranton Prep. Vinansky is from Mid Valley, Lucas from Abington Heights, Sabatini from Holy Redeemer, Williams from Dallas, Popson from Hanover Area and O’Malley from Holy Cross.
Nicholls, formerly from Holy Cross, now resides in North Carolina.
NEPA Elite 15U
New Jersey Shoreshots HGSL defeated NEPA Elite, 60-43, in a 2025 Division Pool A game.
NEPA Elite finished 0-3 in the pool.