By Tom Robinson, NEPAElite.com
SCRANTON – Four NEPA Elite girls teams got the 2023 AAU basketball season off to a successful start Saturday by winning their first two games in The Hoop Group’s Girls PA Showcase.
NEPA Elite entered its six teams in the event and they combined to go 9-3 Saturday. All are back in action Sunday when the event concludes at Riverfront Sports in Scranton and other gyms around Lackawanna County.
A team-by-team recap of the first day of the season:
NEPA Elite 16U HGSL (Rini)
NEPA Elite showed outstanding balance while winning two games in the 2025 Division Pool A, beating Lady Raiders 16U HGSL, 66-34, at Lackawanna College, then moving to Abington Heights to defeat 717 Hoop Dreams 16U, 63-55, in a pair of evening games.
The team placed three players in double figures in scoring in both games.
Maya Jenkins led the way with 15 points against Lady Raiders.
Maggie O’Shea added 11 points, 3 assists and 2 steals while Daniella Ranieli had 10 points.
In all, seven players contributed at least five points.
Maggie Coleman had seven points, three rebounds and four assists. Sophia Talutto added six points. Ella Wilson, who grabbed five rebounds, and Jenna Hillebrand scored five points each.
Claire McGrath shared the team assist lead with three and led NEPA Elite with three steals.
Wilson scored 17 points and grabbed a team-high 8 rebounds in the win over 717 Hoop Dreams in the last session of the night.
Ranieli scored 14 points and Hillebrand had 10.
Smith chipped in seven points and O’Shea six.
Jenkins led the team in assists with five while sharing the steals lead of three with McGrath, who dished out four assists.
Jenkins, Hillebrand and McGrath are from Scranton Prep.
Jenkins and Wilson are from Lake-Lehman; Ranieli is from Pittston Area; Coleman is from Abington Heights; and Talutto from state champion Dunmore.
NEPA Elite 16U (Butler)
Bella Dennebaum and Madeleine Walsh scored in double figures in both games as NEPA Elite won morning games at Abington Heights in the 2025 Division Pool F.
NEPA Elite downed Twin Tier Elite 16U, 57-39, and Team Elevation 16U, 48-19.
Dennebaum, who is from Scranton Prep, scored 28 points in the opener and 23 in the second win.
Walsh, who is from Abington Heights, had 16 points in the first win and 12 in the second.
NEPA Elite 15U HGSL (Scoblick)
NEPA Elite played in the first set of morning games, tipping off the event at Riverfront Sports with a 47-46 victory over Lady Runnin’ Rebels 15U HGSL.
That victory was followed up with another in the 2026 Division Pool A, 60-48, over New York Royals 15U HGSL in an afternoon game played at Holy Cross High School in Dunmore.
Lady Runnin’ Rebels carried a lead into the final five minutes of the opener before Jackie Brown and Celia DeCesare set each other up cutting to the basket for a 43-40 lead.
The Runnin’ Rebels recovered to score six straight points for a 46-43 lead.
Addison Kilmer converted a rebound with 1:12 left to cut the deficit to one. She then scored the game-winner off a Brown assist with 40 seconds remaining.
Brown, DeCesare and Kilmer all scored in double figures in the second game when NEPA Elite had 6 players score between 8 and 12 points.
Brown had 12 points and 5 rebounds; DeCesare had 11 points and Kilmer had 10 points and 5 rebounds.
Natalie Goldstein added nine points and five rebounds. Amanda Dempsey had eight points and three assists. Karsyn Kromko had eight points and two steals.
Brown and Dempsey are from Dunmore while Goldstein and Kromko are from Honesdale. DeCesare is from North Pocono and Kilmer from Mountain View.
NEPA Elite 14U Clark
The NEPA Elite team played up a year again 15U teams and still won twice in the 2026 Division Pool B.
NEPA Elite routed New York Extreme Red 15U HGSL, 64-22, at Riverfront in the morning, then beat Long Island Lightning 15U HGSL, 49-38 at Holy Rosary Hall in the afternoon.
Zya Small had a double-double in the first half of the dominant opening effort. She had half of the team’s points in a 22-0 run to a 30-5 lead with six minutes left in the half.
Small finished with 19 points, 19 rebounds, 6 blocked shots and 4 steals. She had 16 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocked shots by halftime.
Chrissy Jacklinski, Kam Gallis and Ella Clementoni each added 13 points in the opener. Clementoni had six rebounds, six assists and four steals. Jacklinski had five steals and four assists.
Gallis went 4-for-4 in the second half with three of the shots coming from 3-point range.
Cora Castellani chipped in six points and three steals.
Small and Jacklinski are from Scranton. Clementoni is from North Pocono, Castellani from Valley View and Gallis from Notre Dame of Bethlehem.
NEPA Elite 14U (Alers)
NEPA Elite had a pair of close games in the 2027 Division Pool C, opening the day with a 37-32 win over New York Royals 14U at Riverfront, then falling, 39-38, to Rome Select in a game at Abington Heights.
Before suffering the one-point loss, NEPA Elite rallied from a one-point deficit by scoring the last six points of the opener.
NEPA Elite 17U HGSL (Macciocco)
NEPA Elite dropped a pair of 2024 Division Pool E games at Riverfront, falling to Team Elevation 17U Select, 52-43, then New Jersey Rise 17U, 53-29.
Mackenzie Perluke had 13 points in the first game and 12 in the second.
Ella Cooper added seven points and three assists against Team Elevation.
Molly Jenkins grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds while Brenna Hunt led the team in assists and steals with four each.
NEPA Elite had a 7-0 run to end the first half and start the second half against New Jersey Rise, holding it scoreless for 6:25 and without a field goal for 6:38.
New Jersey responded by making its next seven shots for a 19-2 run to a 42-20 lead midway through the second half.
Cooper had six points and six rebounds. Mackenzie Schirg and Lucie Racicky also had six rebounds.
Jenkins and Hunt are from Lake-Lehman.
Perluke is from Wyoming Valley West; Cooper from Valley View; Schirg from Lackawanna Trail and Racicky from Holy Redeemer.