By Tom Robinson, NEPAElite.com
MANHEIM – The NEPA Elite 15U Dempsey boys team won its first two games Saturday to advance to the semifinals of its bracket at the season-ending Summer Jam Fest, a Hoop Group event at Spooky Nook Sports.
The five other NEPA Elite teams also started the two-day event in 16-team brackets. Three of those teams opened with wins, but lost in the quarterfinals. The five teams that have already lost will wrap up their seasons with single games in losers’ brackets Sunday.
If the 15U Dempsey team can get past Team Final Red EYBL in the 15U Platinum 1 Division semifinals at 11:30 a.m., it will play the winner of the game between the Connecticut Elite EYBL-New Jersey Scholars EYBL game for the title at 3 p.m.
A look at how each of the NEPA Elite teams did while playing twice Saturday:
NEPA Elite 15U Dempsey
NEPA Elite produced a big comeback for the second straight game, then fought off a comeback to post its second win.
After beating Triple Threat, 62-57, in overtime in the opener, NEPA Elite made a stop and secured a rebound in the closing seconds to defeat Crown HGSL, 58-56.
NEPA Elite trailed by 19 with 5:12 to go in its final game at the Atlantic City Jam Fest Friday afternoon, then pulled off another comeback while playing in the 8 a.m. game Saturday.
Triple Threat scored the game’s first 10 points, led by 14 twice in the first half and built a nine-point halftime lead up to 16 with less than 10 minutes remaining before NEPA Elite began working its way back.
Brody Martin sent the game into overtime, then won it there.
Martin’s drive at the buzzer forced the tie at 57-57 and set up the Elam Ending, an overtime format in which the first team to score five points wins.
Nate Aviles drove for the first basket of the extra session, then Martin hit the game-ending 3-pointer.
Martin and Brayden Rose, who assisted the clinching basket, led the way with 17 points each. Martin went 6-for-7 from the floor, including 4-for-5 on 3-pointers. Rose was 7-for-10 from the floor, 7-for-8 inside the arc, and also dished out four assists.
Aviles hit 2 of the team’s 11 baskets from 3-point finish with 10 points, 4 assists and 3 steals.
Jordan Shaffer made three 3-pointers for his nine points while also sharing the rebound lead of seven with Ayden Agapito.
Agapito had six points.
Aviles drained back-to-back 3-pointers to begin the rally from a 46-30 deficit with 9:35 to play. Starting with his first 3-pointer, NEPA Elite outscored Triple Threat, 32-11, the rest of the way.
NEPA Elite had seven of its 3-pointers during the rally, which included all 10 of Aviles’ points and 9 from Martin.
Brian Dempsey’s 3-pointer followed the two by Aviles to make it nine straight points in a span of 1:24.
Shaffer and Agapito also hit 3-pointers during the rally and Martin had one in regulation as well as the clincher in overtime.
Missed free throws by Triple Threat with 17.1 and 7.2 seconds left allowed NEPA Elite to make up the last 4 points of the deficit in the game’s final 10 seconds.
Rose, who had 15 of the team’s first 27 points, scored on a drive with 9.1 seconds remaining, setting the stage for Martin’s buzzer-beater.
NEPA Elite led Crown HGSL by seven with 3:13 to go, but hit just one more basket – a long Shaffer 3-pointer with 1:48 remaining – and the front end of an Agapito one-and-one the rest of the way.
Crown HGSL got within a point going into the final minute before Agapito increased the lead to two with 38.3 seconds to play.
Agapito and Shaffer then double-teamed a Crown HGSL player in the post in the closing seconds, forcing a miss, which Agapito rebounded with a second left.
Shaffer led the way in the win, hitting three 3-pointers in each half on his way to 26 points. He scored 15 in the second half.
Rose had all 10 of his points in the first half.
Andrew Kettel, who added seven points, and Aviles had three assists each.
There were eight lead changes in the first half, leading up to the fifth tie, 33-33, at halftime.
Crown scored the first five points of the second half and had one more six-point lead before NEPA Elite went on a 17-5 run to a 50-43 lead. NEPA Elite started that run with nine straight points on 3-pointers by Shaffer, Aviles and Kettel.
Shaffer had the next five points to put NEPA Elite ahead to stay. Agapito hit one of two free throws and Steven Moore scored, making it eight more points in a row for the seven-point lead.
Shaffer and Kettel are from Abington Heights. Martin is from Scranton Prep, Aviles is from Dunmore, Rose from Riverside, Agapito from Crestwood and Moore from Tunkhannock.
NEPA Elite 15U Kingery
NEPA Elite, playing at York College while the rest of the club’s teams were at Spooky Nook, opened with a 55-46 win over Maryland Sting 2026, then lost to Pro Skills DC McKay, 53-47.
Mason Kingery made 11 shots from beyond the arc while scoring 43 points on the day.
Kingery led the win with 21 points.
Shazier Bethea, who had 6 assists and 4 steals, and Kaden Tillison, who had 6 rebounds, each added 10 points.
Finley Huber had six points, nine rebounds and six blocked shots.
Kingery hit six 3-pointers while scoring 22 points in the loss.
Cam Tirado added 15 points.
Kingery and Huber are from Central Columbia. Bethea is from Minersville, Tillison from Eastern Lebanon County (ELCO) and Tirado from Cedar Crest.
NEPA Elite 16U Tillery
NEPA Elite dropped a pair of games in the 16U Platinum 3 Division, falling to Chris Ward Basketball, 49-27, and Epic Elite, 54-44.
NEPA Elite 17U Coyle
NEPA Elite won its fifth straight game on the fourth day of its season-ending road trip, pummeling Team Slow Mo, 60-35, in the 17U Platinum 2 Division opener before having the streak ended, 62-57, by Long Island Lightning HGSL in a late-night game
The opener was a close game until NEPA Elite held Team Slow Mo to one basket for the last 3:55 of the first half and one more for the first 13:50 of the second half.
NEPA Elite went on a 34-4 tear during that time.
Daniel Santaniello had 9 of his game-high 21 points during an 11-2 finish for a 37-24 halftime lead.
Mikey Cumbo had 7 of his 16 points, leading a balanced, 23-2 start to the second half to open the lead to 34 points.
Team Slow Mo scored the game’s last nine points.
Oliver Almonte had the first of his two double-doubles on the day, recording 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Mason Fedor produced 11 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals.
Cumbo also had eight rebounds as part of a 37-21 dominance on the boards. NEPA Elite had allowed just a single offensive rebound, clearing 22 defensive rebounds, prior to the nine-point streak over the game’s final 2:10.
Ryan Nealon dished out seven assists.
Almonte and Cumbo each had two steals.
In the night game, NEPA Elite and Long Island traded the lead seven times and were tied three times before the Lightning moved in front to stay just before the midway point of the second half.
Long Island scored 11 straight to begin an 18-4 run to a 58-47 lead.
NEPA Elite fought back to get within five with possession with 37.4 seconds left, but the comeback stalled there.
Almonte, who grabbed 15 rebounds, and Cumbo scored 13 points each. Cumbo had four assists.
Nealon had 10 points and 8 assists.
Fedor grabbed eight rebounds, made three steals and blocked two shots before fouling out. Santaniello also fouled out, finishing with eight points.
Connor Cranage made all three of his shots for six points.
Nealon and Fedor are from Abington Heights. Almonte is from Scranton, Cumbo from Dallas, Santaniello from Scranton Prep and Cranage from Blue Ridge.
NEPA 17U Zimmerman
NEPA Elite held off City Rocks Binghamton, 57-53, in a 17U Gold 1 Division opener then lost to Brooklyn Royal Crusaders, 70-47.
Isaac Thomas scored 14 points in the win.
Tyler Reigel and Jay Hile added eight points each while Rylan Price and Brian Britton each had seven. Price did all his scoring in the second half.
NEPA Elite carried a lead down the stretch and made several late defensive stops, but struggled to put the game away with seven straight misses on the foul line before making its last three.
Dallas George clinched the win by grabbing a defensive rebound and making two free throws with 1.8 seconds left.
Thomas had 17 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots against Brooklyn.
Reigel added 11 points while Logan Richards grabbed 7 rebounds and George dished out 4 assists.
Hile and Price are from Shamokin. Thomas is from Blue Mountain, Reigel from Mifflinburg, Britton from Southern Columbia and Richards from Hershey.
NEPA Elite 17U Frank
NEPA Elite fought back twice, but had each of its rallies fall short in the 17U Gold 4 Division. It lost to AC Connecticut, 54-50, and Nassau Pride 17U Maurer, 49-47.
ACC led 49-35 with 8:30 to go before NEPA Elite scored 13 straight points, all off of layups or free throws drawn on lay-up attempts.
Ricky Vinansky had six points and two steals in the run, which combined fastbreaks off turnovers with strong drives out of the half-court offense.
Vinansky made one of two free throws with 1:31 left to cut the deficit to 49-48, but ACC held on by going 5-for-6 from the line in the final 31.1 seconds.
VInansky scored 16 points.
George Sabatini and Santaniello added 10 each. Santaniello hit two 3-pointers while scoring his points in the first half.
NEPA Elite started the second game 5-for-6 on 3-pointers, including 4-for-5 by Chris Ogden, for a 17-9 lead with 7:32 left in the first half.
Nassau Pride scored the last six points of the first half and the first five of the second half for a 34-22 lead.
Ogden hit back-to-back 3-pointers to key an 11-0 run to tie the game at 40-40 before NEPA Elite twice took a one-point lead, on a three-point play by Vinansky and two free throws from Sabatini.
Nick Williams tied the game, 49-49, with a reverse layup off a Demaja Dunston feed with 50 seconds left, but Nassau Pride converted on a fastbreak in the final 10 seconds for the winning score.
Ogden’s 3-pointers gave him 18 points.
Williams went 4-for-5 from the floor while adding nine points.
Chris Chandler had six rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
Vinansky and Dunston are from Mid Valley. Sabatini is from Holy Redeemer, Ogden from West Scranton, Williams from Dallas and Chandler from Scranton.