By Tom Robinson, NEPAElite.com
MANHEIM – The NEPA Elite 16U Tillery and 15U Dempsey boys teams each won semifinals early Sunday afternoon to reach championship games where they settled for second place in their 12-team divisions in The Summit, a Zero Gravity Basketball event.
Both finalists made the semifinals by going 2-0 to win three-team pools on Saturday.
A recap of how each NEPA Elite boys team did Sunday as the two-day tournament concluded at Spooky Nook Sports:
NEPA Elite 15U Dempsey
Steven Moore had three dunks during the 15U Chrome Black Championship Bracket semifinal when NEPA Elite defeated Metro United ZGXL from New York, 46-34, to reach the championship game.
Coach Tommy Dempsey praised the team’s effort with several players taking on larger roles with leading scorer Jordan Shaffer out for the tournament with an ankle injury and Brayden Rose, one of the team’s next-best offensive options, unavailable for the semifinal.
The South Jersey Titans Elite took the title with a 41-32 victory over NEPA Elite.
The Titans took the lead with a 10-2 run midway through the first half and held it the rest of the way, maintaining an advantage of between 5 and 9 points over the final 19 minutes.
Nate Aviles led NEPA Elite with 10 points, including 9 in the first half. Rose scored all seven of his points in the first half.
Points were harder to come by in the second half when the Titans outscored NEPA Elite, 12-11.
Tony Battaglia finished with six points and joined Brody Martin and Andrew Kettel with two assists each.
Aviles hit a 3-pointer 18 seconds in to open the scoring and had five of the points as NEPA Elite took a 7-3 lead after 2:15.
Battaglia set up a Rose layup, then drove for a three-point play to create the team’s last two leads.
South Jersey hit a 3-pointer for a 13-12 lead with 9:17 left in the half, starting a stretch in which it scored five straight points before and again after an Aviles basket off a feed from Kettel.
The run produced a 20-14 lead with 7:36 left in the half and NEPA Elite did not get closer than four the rest of the way.
Kettel and Shaffer are from Abington Heights.
Aviles is from Dunmore; Rose is from Riverside; Moore from Tunkhannock; Battaglia from Scranton and Martin from Scranton Prep.
NEPA Elite 16U Tillery
NEPA Elite held Pro Skills Basketball scoreless in overtime during the 16U Chrome Black Championship Bracket semifinal to come away with a 41-39 victory.
Train’d To Go-Battle from Essex County, N.J. downed NEPA Elite, 60-45, in the championship game.
Justin Blanding drew three offensive fouls during the semifinal, including one while protecting a two-point lead with 16.4 seconds left in overtime.
Brycen Martin led the way with 17 points, including 10 in the second half when he forced overtime by hitting two free throws with 22.1 seconds left.
Gerry Rose scored the only points of the two-minute overtime, 22 seconds in when hit a runner from just outside the lane on the right side.
Robby Lucas scored 13 points and keyed a fast start by NEPA Elite.
PSB scored first, then NEPA Elite went on a 12-0 run with 10 of the points supplied by Lucas, who hit 3-pointers 36 seconds apart.
Martin scored the other two points in the early run and made a steal and sent a long lead pass to Lucas to cap his 4-for-4 start and the team’s 12-point streak.
NEPA Elite grabbed the game’s first seven rebounds, with Pedro Lugo getting three of the first four and blocking a shot during the 12-2 start.
PSB answered with its own 12-point streak to a 14-12 lead and opened the advantage to 21-15 with 2:17 left in the half.
Martin scored the last five points of the half, hitting from just inside the arc, then nailing a 3-pointer with four seconds left to cut the deficit to 21-20.
The entire second half was played as a one-possession game featuring six lead changes and four ties.
Lugo finished with eight rebounds and three blocked shots. Blanding had five rebounds and three assists. Martin made two steals.
Martin and Mario Matrone led NEPA Elite during the final with 10 points each.
The New Jersey team made eight of its nine shots during a 19-7 run late in the first half to open a 29-20 lead.
Lugo had seven points, five rebounds and three steals. Blanding had six points, six rebounds and two assists. Jaheam Roberts had six points and two steals. Martin had three assists.
Lugo and Roberts are from Scranton. Blanding is from Wallenpaupack; Martin from Scranton Prep; Rose from Riverside; Lucas from Abington Heights; and Matrone from Holy Cross.
NEPA Elite 17U Coyle
Empire Youth Athletics from New York opened a 15-point lead late in the first half on the way to a 46-37 victory over NEPA Elite in a 17U Diamond Black Division losers’ bracket final.
Chris Cornish and Oliver Almonte worked the lane to split the scoring in an 8-0 run that pulled NEPA Elite within 34-28 with seven minutes left, but it was unable to get any closer.
Cornish finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Connor Cranage had eight points and two assists. Almonte added six points and six rebounds. George Sabatini had eight rebounds.
Cornish is from Charlotte, Fla.; Almonte from Scranon; Cranage from Blue Ridge; and Sabatini from Holy Redeemer.
NEPA Elite 17U Frank
Big City Dreams defeated NEPA Elite, 73-45, in a 17U Gold Division losers’ bracket final.