By Tom Robinson, NEPAElite.com
UNCASVILLE, Conn. – The NEPA Elite Clark 13U team won twice Thursday to finish 3-0 in pool play in The Hoop Group Girls Live in New England, making it six straight events that the team has won at least a pool title.
A recap of Thursday’s action for the three NEPA Elite teams participating in pool play while the club’s Clark 17U team was in a bracket competition from the start of the event at Mohegan Sun:
NEPA Elite Clark 13U
The NEPA Elite Clark 13U girls defeated Team Jersey Elite, 51-47, and New Hampshire Spartans 8th, 57-42, to finish 3-0 in the 14U Orange Division Pool B.
The team is trying to, for the second straight week, win a title while playing up in a 14U Division.
After advancing to the semifinals of the Orange Championship bracket, NEPA Elite learned it would be receiving a Friday forfeit from iDream 14U and advancing straight to the final against the winner of BBA Nets 14U and Team Jersey Elite.
The Orange Division featured two pools of four teams each with the top two teams advancing to the semifinals.
Cora Castellani scored a game-high 17 points and joined Zya Small in leading a surge early in the second half that gave NEPA Elite enough to get past Team Jersey.
NEPA Elite forced a 20-20 halftime tie, then scored the first 10 points of the second half, including five by Castellani.
Back-to-back baskets by Small, then an Ella Clementoni fastbreak basket gave the team two more 10-point leads before Team Jersey fought back, tying the game with 1:15 left.
Castellani hit a three-point play to put NEPA Elite ahead going into the final minute. She then made both ends of a one-and-one with 42.8 seconds left and Clementoni did the same with 10.7 remaining.
Small had all 11 of her points in the second half along with 4 steals, 3 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
Clementoni added nine points.
Kayli McHugh made all five of her first-half shots and there was plenty of balanced scoring behind her when NEPA Elite handled the Spartans later in the day.
McHugh scored 13 of her 17 points in an eight-minute stretch of the first half while NEPA Elite was turning a 5-5 tie into a 31-15 romp. She capped that burst with consecutive 3-pointers, the second and third of the half for her.
While also grabbing six rebounds, McHugh went 7-for-11 from the floor, including 3-for-5 on 3-pointers.
Chrissy Jacklinski scored nine points while Ava Fenton, Clementoni and Castellani all added eight and Emma Coleman had seven.
Jacklinski grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds.
The team moved the ball well with Clementoni getting six assists, Castellani four and Coleman three.
Fenton had 5 of the team’s 17 steals while Jacklinski, Clementoni and Coleman had 3 each.
Jacklinski had three blocks and Clementoni two.
NEPA Elite led by as much as 53-34 with 7:04 left.
Castellani and Fenton are from Valley View. McHugh and Clementoni are from North Pocono. Small and Jacklinski are from Scranton. Coleman is from Abington Heights.
NEPA Elite Rini 15U
The NEPA Elite Rini 15U team split its two games in the 15U Orange Division Pool B.
NEPA Elite defeated Lady Runnin’ Rebels 2025 Red, 48-34, and lost to Long Island Lightning 15U HGSL, 43-42.
NEPA Elite placed third in the four-team pool, going 1-2 with the losses by one and two points. It will play in a four-team consolation bracket with other third-place teams Friday afternoon.
Maggie Coleman led the offense while Ella Smith and Isabella Dennebaum led a defense that produced 20 steals in the win over the Runnin’ Rebels.
Coleman finished with 13 points and 3 steals.
Smith scored 12 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and made 5 steals.
Jenna Hillebrand added 11 points.
The team shot 46.5 percent from the floor with Smith going 5-for-8, Hillebrand 5-for-9 and Coleman 5-for-10.
Dennebaum made five steals and also had five rebounds.
Smith led a late-game surge that put NEPA Elite in front against Long Island until the Lightning scored on a putback with 8.1 seconds left to pull out the win.
Long Island led 41-35 before Dennebaum made two free throws.
Smith then hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to one and followed it up with a steal and an assist to Hillebrand for the go-ahead basket.
Coleman led the way with 13 points.
Smith, who had two steals, and Hillebrand had eight each.
Dennebaum and Hillebrand are from Scranton Prep. Coleman is from Abington Heights and Smith from Wallenpaupack.
NEPA Elite Macciocco 16U
The NEPA Elite Macciocco 16U team dropped two games in the 16U Orange Division Pool A.
NEPA Elite fell to EVO Elite 16U HGSL, 54-38, and Lehigh Valley Fever 2024 National HGSL, 63-33.
Addison Kilmer scored 13 points, grabbed 7 rebound and blocked 2 shots against EVO.
Mackenzie Schirg added 10 points.
Finley Bittenbender had eight points while Gabby Marsola had five points and five assists and Ella Cooper pulled down seven defensive rebounds.
Sophia Talutto had 12 points and 4 rebounds against Lehigh Valley.
Bittenbender added eight points.
Cooper had five rebounds.
Kilmer is from Mountain View, Schirg from Lackawanna Trail, Marsola from Wyoming Valley West, Cooper from Valley View and Talutto from Dunmore.
NEPA Elite won its Thursday game and finished 1-2 in the pool.
The team plays twice more Friday, beginning with an 8 a.m. game, in a consolation bracket for third-place teams.