By Tom Robinson, NEPAElite.com
MANHEIM – The first day of Select Events Basketball’s Live at the Nook Friday was one of the roughest in competition in the four-year history of the NEPA Elite AAU girls program.
By the time the three-day event concluded Sunday at Spooky Nook Sports, the club was enjoying one of its more impressive stretches across multiple teams.
NEPA Elite girls teams combined to go 6-0 Sunday and won their last 10 games of Live at the Nook, beginning with Saturday afternoon.
The final day in Lancaster County produced two pool titles, a buzzer-beater and two breakthrough victories.
A recap of Sunday’s action:
NEPA Elite 14U Clark
Cora Castellani scored 18 points and Zya Small had another strong all-around performance as NEPA Elite turned a final-day meeting for first place in the 2027 Division Pool B into another blowout victory.
NEPA Elite routed WPA Bruins UA Future, an Under Armour program from western Pennsylvania, 48-9.
With multiple Big Ten coaches watching, NEPA Elite forced 23 turnovers and shot better than 50 percent from the floor.
Castellani went 8-for-12 from the floor, including 2-for-3 on 3-pointers. She also had four steals.
Small was 3-for-5 from the floor while finishing with 7 points, 10 rebounds, 6 blocked shots, 3 assists and 3 steals.
NEPA Elite scored the first 18 points, did not allow a point for 10:17 and led 25-2 at halftime.
Small made sure the dominance continued.
On the first possession of the second half, the 6-foot-2 eighth grader blocked a shot, ran the floor and scored on a putback.
Small added a tough finish for the next NEPA Elite basket, then blocked a shot, controlled the defensive rebound and made the long outlet for Chrissy Jacklinski’s three-point play and 33-3 lead.
Late in the game, Small blocked a shot that Ella Clementoni rebounded. Small took off, made a difficult catch on the baseline too far underneath to shoot, but wheeled and found an open Kam Gallis in the corner for the last NEPA Elite 3-pointer in a 4-for-8 shooting day from long distance.
Gallis had another 3-pointer and finished with 10 points.
Jacklinski scored eight points and made a team-high five steals.
Clementoni also had three steals while Gallis also had three assists.
Small and Jacklinski are from Scranton; Castellani from Valley View; Gallis from Notre Dame of Bethlehem; and Clementoni from North Pocono,
NEPA Elite remained unbeaten on the season by outscoring its four Live at the Nook opponents, 210-75, an average of 52.5-18.8.
NEPA Elite 14U Alers
NEPA Elite finished up with a game at nearby Millersville University and used it to take first in the 2027 Division Pool G by moving into a three-way tie and winning the tiebreaker.
A 63-25 rout of BBA from North Potomac, Md. was the third straight for NEPA Elite after opening with a loss.
NEPA Elite, UBC 2027 Black from Largo, Md. and New Heights of New York City all finished 3-1. NEPA Elite won by posting the best scoring margin, outscoring opponents, 180-88, compared to UBC ‘s 172-142 and New Heights’ 150-130.
The three teams went 1-1 against each other with NEPA Elite again having the better margin in those meetings.
After falling to UBC, 40-35, in Friday’s opener, NEPA Elite handled New Heights, 35-15, Saturday.
NEPA Elite was already done and sitting in second place when New Heights created the three-way tie by knocking off UBC, 58-55.
NEPA Elite 15U Scoblick
Jackie Brown led a balanced attack with 12 points while Natalie Goldstein and Addison Kilmer again combined to control the inside as NEPA Elite pounded Become One from Toronto, Canada, 48-10.
The win was the third straight for NEPA Elite since losing Friday to New York Basketball Academy, the team it tied for the second-best record in the six-team 2026 Division Pool B at 3-1.
Brown also made three steals as NEPA Elite forced 25 turnovers, 17 while taking a 28-1 lead in the first half.
Goldstein finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds, 8 of which came on the offensive end. Kilmer finished with eight points, nine rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots.
Amanda Dempsey added seven points and three steals.
Lily Scoblick and Karsyn Kromko had three assists each.
NEPA Elite scored the first 11 points, then 20 more for a 31-1 lead before giving up the first Become One field goal 2:10 into the second half (18:10 into the game).
Brown and Dempsey are from Dunmore. Goldstein and Kromko are from Honesdae. Kilmer is from Mountain View and Scoblick is from Abington Heights.
NEPA Elite 16U Rini
Daniella Ranieli beat the final buzzer with a corner 3-pointer off an in-bounds play with one second left to lift NEPA Elite to a 56-53 victory over Long Island Lightning Connolly in the 2025 Division Pool A finale.
The win was the second straight for NEPA Elite after losing twice by a total of four points, including Saturday morning on a similar play.
Boston Lady Rivals 3SSB also went from an in-bounds play under the basket to a winning 3-pointer from the right corner. In Boston’s case, the play began with 2.6 seconds left and while trailing by two.
Ranieli’s shot came with the game tied.
“Coach (Jess) Rini set up a play for us, but that kind of fell apart because the team was defending us pretty well,” Ranieli said. “I kind of just went to the ball and, I don’t know, I just shot it.”
Ranieli broke from the right wing, caught a pass from Maggie O’Shea and quickly launched the shot over a defender for the winner.
Jenna Hillebrand hit her last four shots while finishing with team-highs of 16 points and 5 steals.
Ranieli had 12 points.
Sophia Talutto added eight points and four steals. Maya Jenkins scored seven points.
NEPA Elite hit eight 3-pointers. Hillebrand and Ranieli had two each while Talutto, Jenkins, O’Shea and Wilson made one each.
Hillebrand and Jenkins are from Scranton Prep; Ranieli is from Pittston Area; Talutto from Dunmore; O’Shea from Scranton; and Wilson from Lake-Lehman.
NEPA Elite 16U Butler
NEPA Elite held the Maryland Lady Shooting Stars scoreless for about 12 minutes while taking control on the way to its first win of the weekend, 35-22, in the AAU club’s last game of Live at the Nook.
Neither team led by more than four points until the final nine minutes of the 2025 Division Pool I game.
Maryland scored seven straight to take a 15-12 lead before NEPA Elite came back with nine straight while the Lady Shooting Stars were going through their long scoreless stretch from late in the first half until beyond the midway point of the second half.
Once the Lady Shooting Starts began scoring again, the NEPA Elite offense heated up to extend the lead.
Madeleine Walsh and Kathryn Morgan connected 20 seconds apart as NEPA Elite went 4-for-7 from long distance in the second half after going 0-for-6 in the first.
“We’ve seen more zone this weekend than I think I have ever seen in an AAU tournament,” coach Greg Butler said. “We weren’t as prepared as I would have liked to have been, but in this particular game, I think they started getting what it is we wanted, in terms of getting the ball from one side of the court to the other and using the high post.
“Once they did that, it started opening things up and kids started gaining some confidence by knocking down some shots. Even when we were missing, I said they were good shots, ‘just keep shooting, one’s going to go’. We kind of caught fire there a little bit.”
Bella Dennebaum led the victory with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
“She really does so many things that will help a team win – winning plays,” Butler said. “So far this AAU season, we’re putting a lot on her shoulders.
“Sometimes we need her to handle it; sometimes we need her to go inside; sometimes we need her to play the best opposing player. She’s capable of doing it and she’s really shining so far through the early part of the season. We’re going to need more of it.”
Morgan made two 3-pointers while adding eight points. Walsh had seven points and six rebounds.
Navaeh Baran also had six rebounds to help the team to a 37-27 advantage on the boards.
Riley Turner had three assists and joined Dennebaum and Ryleigh Kilmer with two steals each.
Morgan and Walsh are from Abington Heights while Kilmer and Turner are from Mountain View. Dennebaum is from Scranton Prep and Baran is from Nanticoke.
“I think I get it: What we’re here for is to get better,” Butler said. “But, winning is nice to keep everybody feeling good and positive.
“It’s never nice to lose. … To get one shows we’re improving.”
NEPA Elite snapped a five-game losing streak and did it with a 13-point win over a squad that beat the Riverside Hawks, the team that topped NEPA Elite by 23 in Friday’s opener.
“That looks to me like progress,” Butler said. “We’re thrilled to have all these kids and defensively they’re hard-nosed. That’s what we need.”
After scoring well under a point per minute for more than 3½ games, NEPA Elite got the offense going with 10 points in 2½ minutes late in the game to break away to the win.
NEPA Elite 17U Macciocco
NEPA Elite came through with its first victory of the season, topping Premier Basketball from Long Island, 42-29, in a 2024 Division Pool O game.
The win ended the frustrations of the team that had a lead get away in the final five seconds of one game and lost by six points in another to the Rockland Raiders, who won all four of their games in the pool.
Mackenzie Perluke led the way with 17 points.
Mackenzie Schirg added seven points while Lucie Racicky had six points and three assists.
Ella Cooper grabbed seven rebounds and Molly Jenkins had five.
“We came out with strong defensive pressure and maintained our composure when they made a run at us,” coach Tara Macciocco said. “Everyone contributed at both ends of the floor, it was a total team effort.”
Perluke is from Wyoming Valley West, Schirg from Lackawanna Trail, Racicky from Holy Redeemer, Cooper from Valley View and Jenkins from Lake-Lehman.