By Tom Robinson, NEPAElite.com
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – The 16U Rini team played a near flawless second half and NEPA Elite girls teams combined to finish off three significant comebacks Friday while the club’s teams were going a collective 7-2 in the first of three days of action in Select Events Basketball’s Atlantic City Showcase at the Convention Center.
The Rini team and the 14U Clark team each had 2-0 days with the help of one comeback while the 17U Macciocco team had the day’s biggest rally, working back from 13 down and 12 with 10 minutes remaining to win its only game.
A recap of the day’s action for the six teams from the club out of Riverfront Sports in Scranton:
NEPA Elite 17U Macciocco
Mackenzie Perluke scored 18 points and Mackenzie Schirg had all 10 of her’s in the second half as NEPA Elite defeated Mid-Atlantic Heat, 55-48, in a 17U Division Pool O game.
Mid-Atlantic scored the game’s first seven points and NEPA Elite never led until Schirg hit the last of her three straight 3-pointers in the final 7:10.
Schirg’s last 3-pointer started a game-ending, 9-0 run to produce the victory.
Perluke was fouled on a shot from beyond the arc and made two of three free throws with 55.8 seconds left.
Frankie Martinelli then made both ends of a one-and-one twice, with 20.2, then 4.7 seconds left.
The team’s three double-figures scorers had 31 of their 38 points in the second half. Perluke had 13 of her points in that time, going 5-for-9 from the floor and making her only 3-pointer.
Layla Hernandez had 8 of her 10 points in the second half and helped spark the comeback.
The Heat led 28-17 at halftime, went up 34-21 and was still in front 36-24 before Hernandez hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 10:05 left.
Hernandez then made a steal and took off on a race for the basket. At high speed, she was able to slip a blind, drop pass to Ella Cooper, who trailed the play and converted the layup.
Cooper took just three shots and made two while setting up her teammate’s shots with 10 assists. Full statistics are not available for all AAU games, but Cooper’s 10 are the most by an NEPA Elite player in any game in which that category has been tracked during the club’s four-year history.
Hernandez drove for a three-point play, giving her eight points in 5:07; Perluke added seven points, including a capping, 3-pointer; and Schirg hit her first 3-pointer during an 18-6 run to tie the game at 42-42 on Perluke’s 3-pointer.
Schrig forced the next tie on another 3-pointer, then gave NEPA Elite a 49-48 lead by hitting from high on the left side with 2:15 left.
Martinelli finished with eight points.
The Heat had 27 offensive rebounds and a 62-33 dominance on the boards, including 31-12 in the first half.
NEPA Elite, however, held Mid-Atlantic to 14.7 percent (5-for-34) shooting in the second half despite all the close-range opportunities the reboundsn.
Schirg grabbed a team-high seven rebounds while Perluke had six.
Hernandez had two steals while Martinelli and Lucie Racicky each blocked two shots.
Perluke is from Wyoming Valley West, Schirg from Lackawanna Trail, Hernandez from East Stroudsburg, Cooper from Valley View, Martinelli from Marian Catholic and Racicky from Holy Redeemer.
NEPA Elite 16U Rini
NEPA Elite made its last 11 shots of a 2-0 day.
Maya Jenkins went 4-for-5 from the floor in the second half, including hitting two 3-pointers, to lead the way with 17 points, 5 steals and 3 assists in a 60-35 romp over the New England Storm in a 16U Division Pool O/F game.
NEPA Elite began the day with a rally from a seven-point halftime deficit to beat Western PA Bruins 16U-McLin, 49-43.
Sophia Talutto was 5-for-6 in the second half when she had 11 of her 15 points.
NEPA Elite was 5-for-5 on 3-pointers while shooting 76.2 percent from the floor (16-for-21) in the second half.
“In the second half, we were definitely more patient offensively and we definitely spaced the floor way better,” said coach Jess Rini, who also praised Jenkins’ movement away from the ball.. “And, we weren’t taking the first open, OK opportunity.
“So, instead of getting the quickest shot, we got one that was wide open.”
Maggie Coleman, who added nine points, and Maggie O’Shea, who made her only three shots for six points, each joined Jenkins in sharing the team lead of three assists.
NEPA Elite forced four turnovers in the first 2:50 of the second half and allowed just one shot inside the arc in the first four minutes of the half.
That gave NEPA Elite a chance to expanded its 21-19 halftime lead with a 12-1 run.
Maggie Coleman scored five straight points to complete the run, hitting a 3-pointer from the left corner, then scoring a putback in transition for a 33-20 lead.
Jenna Hillebrand was 4-for-5 in the second half to lead the victory over Western PA with 19 points and 6 rebounds.
Jenkins added 11 points and 5 rebounds.
Talutto scored 10 points.
NEPA Elite got three assists from Claire McGrath and two steals from Maggie O’Shea.
Jenkins, Hillebrand and McGrath are also teammates at Scranton Prep during the high school season. Talutto is from Dunmore; Coleman is from Abington Heights and O’Shea is from Scranton.
“I have no complaints,” Rini said.
NEPA Elite 16U Butler
The New England Crusaders made six 3-pointers and forced 20 turnovers to defeat NEPA Elite, 40-29, in a 16U Division Pool I game wrap up the first day.
Nevaeh Baran hit three straight 3-point attempts during the second half to lead the team with 10 points during the loss.
Kathryn Morgan grabbed five rebounds and Madelyn O’Shea made four steals.
Baran is from Nanticoke; Morgan from Lake-Lehman and O’Shea from Scranton.
NEPA Elite 15U Scoblick
NEPA Elite split two close 15U Division Pool F games.
After pulling out a 40-36 win over New Jersey Elite in its opener, NEPA Elite lost, 46-43, to the Mid-Atlantic Magic.
Karsyn Kromko hit two late free throws and coach Dave Scoblick credited his team with “excellent defense” in the opening win.
NEPA Elite 14U Clark
Playing up in the 15U Division Pool H, unbeaten NEPA Elite went 2-0 on the day by taking two different approaches.
The first was building up a 30-point lead with 11 minutes remaining on the way to a 63-36 romp over New York Gauchos.
The second game got off to a much rougher start, but NEPA Elite rallied past New Jersey Gemz, 32-29, with the help of a 16-2 second half.
NEPA Elite allowed just three shots inside the arc while forcing seven turnovers in the second half.
Zya Small blocked one of those three attempts. She finished with 16 points, 9 rebounds, steals and 3 blocked shots, all team-high totals.
Ella Clementoni scored all nine of her points in the second half and also had three steals.
NEPA Elite fell behind when it missed all 13 first-half, 3-point attempts and was just 1-for-21 from long range before Kam Gallis hit the go-ahead, 3-pointer from the left corner.
Emma Coleman grabbed five rebounds.
Small is from Scranton; Clementoni from North Pocono; Gallis from Notre Dame of Bethlehem; and Coleman from Abington Heights.
NEPA Elite 14U Alers
NEPA Elite needed two overtimes to pull out a 45-42 victory over SLAAM Grate in a 14U Division Pool G game.
Clementoni and Gallis, filling in with the team, helped pull out the victory. Clementoni hit the go-ahead layup and Gallis made two free throws with three seconds left in the second overtime.