By Tom Robinson, NEPAElite.com
ATLANTIC CITY – NEPA Elite spread the ball around Thursday while winning both its 17U Hoop Group Showcase League games during the Atlantic City Jam Fest at the Convention Center.
NEPA Elite had four players score in double figures in each game with Mason Fedor getting there in both games and seven of the nine players doing so at least once.
After struggling offensively while going 1-2 playing without point guard Will Marion in The Hoop Group’s Summer Warm-Up at East Stroudsburg University last weekend, NEPA Elite got the offense clicking.
With Marion still out, Ryan Nealon adjusted, doing the bulk of the ballhandling while passing out 14 assists on the day.
“Ryan had to get used to being a point guard,” coach Brian Coyle said. “I feel like we’re in a good rhythm now.
“When we’re disciplined and running our stuff both offensively and defensively, we’re a very good team. Once we start breaking from that, with AAU it’s very hard because you only have three timeouts. You have to communicate and try to calm them down on the fly.”
Fedor led the scoring in the first game of the day and shared the lead in a balanced effort in the second game.
Nealon dished out eight assists as NEPA Elite shot 55.1 percent (27-for-49) from the floor and 47.1 percent (8-for-17) on 3-pointers in the second win, 70-50, over SHA Elite.
“For the most part, we’re moving the ball, running our offense, our shot selection is really good and ultimately that’s what makes us shoot at a high clip,” Coyle said.
NEPA Elite rallied in the opener, beating Ray Allen Select, 59-51, by shooting better than 50 percent over the final 13 minutes to key a 27-14 closing stretch.
The team is 3-0 in Atlantic City with one game remaining Friday before moving on to Spooky Nook to wrap up the season Saturday and Sunday.
Fedor and Oliver Almonte scored 13 points each, Chris Ogden added 12 and Connor Cranage 10 against SHA Elite.
Ogden, Cranage and Ricky Vinansky came off the bench to shoot a combined 12-for-13 with the only miss coming on one of Cranage’s three attempts from beyond the arc.
The starting lineup did the bulk of the work against Ray Allen Select with Fedor (17), Mikey Cumbo (16), Nealon (11) and Daniel Santaniello (11) scoring in double figures while Almonte got there in rebounds with 10.
Ogden and Cranage each made both their 3-point attempts as part of the team’s 7-for-11 effort while opening a 46-26 halftime lead over SHA Elite.
Fedor also led the team with eight rebounds and three steals while sharing the lead in blocks with Almonte and Cumbo at two each.
Cumbo hit a 3-pointer to start a seven-point streak to the first lead of the second half, then did all the scoring in an 8-0 run to open a 57-47 lead with 1:34 left in the earlier game. He went 6-for-8 with four 3-pointers to score 16 points in that 11½-minute stretch.
Fedor finished 7-for-10 from the floor and 3-for-5 from the line with nine rebounds and two steals.
Nealon had six rebounds and six assists.
Ogden had four assists. Santaniello contributed defensively with three steals and two blocked shots along with drawing a charge. Cumbo also had two blocks.
Fedor and Nealon are from Abington Heights. Almonte is from Scranton, Santaniello from Scranton Prep, Cumbo from Dallas, Ogden from West Scranton, Cranagae from Blue Ridge and Vinansky from Mid Valley.
A recap of each of the other NEPA Elite teams Thursday in Atlantic City:
NEPA Elite 17U Frank
NEPA Elite opened the day in the 17U Gold championship bracket, but lost its second-round game, 48-19, to Legendz Athletics Williams, then lost again in the losers’ bracket when a comeback fell short against Central PA Elite, 54-46.
Legendz held NEPA Elite to five second-half points.
Nick Williams led the team in points with seven and rebounds with five.
George Sabatini added five points, four rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots.
Cranage scored a team-high 19 points in the loss to Central PA Elite.
Williams is from Dallas and Sabatini from Holy Redeemer.
NEPA Elite 16U Tillery
NEPA Elite won its first 16U Platinum 2 Division losers’ bracket game of the day, 56-45, over Epic Elite and led most of the way before falling to Team Push, 59-54.
Pedro Lugo and Robby Lucas led an early 15-3 run for NEPA Elite for a 20-9 lead over Epic Elite and the team stayed in front the rest of the way. Lugo had six points and Lucas five during the run.
NEPA Elite led 30-23 at halftime, and overcome a 17-2 Epic Elite run by dominating the boards, 28-11. Jaheam Roberts had six of the second-half rebounds.
Brycen Martin finished with a team-high 18 points and made 2 steals.
Lugo had 11 first-half points and finished with 13 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
Roberts had 12 points.
Lucas added seven points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Gerry Rose also had six rebounds and Mario Matrone two steals.
Epic Elite stormed in front, 38-32, when NEPA Elite committed 12 turnovers in the first 7:24 of the second half.
NEPA Elite recovered to lose the ball just once the rest of the way while outscoring Epic Elite, 24-7.
Martin’s 3-pointer with six minutes left put NEPA Elite ahead to stay. He then drove for one basket and assisted Lucas on another while the team was scoring the game’s last eight points.
NEPA Elite built a pair of 15-point, first-half leads against Team Push when it went 12 minutes without committing a turnover while opening the game 7-for-13 from 3-point range.
Team Push picked up the defensive pressure, forcing 16 turnovers in the last 20 minutes and causing NEPA Elite to miss its last eight 3-point attempts over the game’s final 14 minutes.
Martin was again the leading scorer, finishing with 15 points.
Rose scored 10 points, but missed the second half with an injury.
Roberts finished with 9 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists.
Lucas, who had seven points and two steals, and Lugo each grabbed seven rebounds.
Lugo and Roberts are from Scranton. Lucas is from Abington Heights, Martin from Scranton Prep, Matrone from Holy Cross and Rose from Riverside.
NEPA Elite 15U Dempsey
NEPA Elite started the day in the second round of the winners’ bracket of the 15U Platinum 2 Division, but lost twice.
The Washington Warriors Prospects HGSL knocked NEPA Elite into the losers’ bracket by pulling away late in a 67-46 victory, then Middlesex Magic-Brewer won, 54-52, in overtime.
Washington ran off nine straight points in just 1:11 for a 31-20 lead.
Brayden Rose stopped that streak with a drive out of the pressbreak, giving him 14 points in the first 13 minutes and Nate Aviles closed the first-half scoring with a 3-pointer, but NEPA Elite still trailed, 36-25.
NEPA Elite got within 10 twice on Jordan Shaffer 3-pointers in the second half, but was limited to 2 field goals over the last 9 minutes.
Rose’s 14 points led the team and he shared the rebound lead of 6 with Ayden Agapito.
Shaffer was 3-for-7 on 3-pointers to add nine points.
Aviles hit two 3-pointers.
Tony Battaglia had five points, five rebounds and three assists.
Steven Moore blocked three shots.
Battaglia’s 3-pointer from the right corner with 23 seconds left forced overtime and NEPA Elite moved ahead twice in the Elam Ending format where the first team to five points wins.
The Battaglia 3-pointer completed a comeback from six down in the last 2:37 of regulation.
Ayden Agapito converted a Rose feed from the high post to score inside on the first possession of the extra session.
Middlesex took the lead with a 3-pointer, then Shaffer put NEPA Elite back in front by making two of three free throws.
The Magic pulled out the win on a banked-in 3-pointer.
Rose kept NEPA Elite in the game with 26 points and 10 rebounds.
Aviles made all three of his shots while adding seven points and three assists.
Agapito was 3-for-4 to finish with seven points and two blocked shots.
Battaglia finished with five points, four three points and three assists.
Rose is from Riverside, Aviles from Dunmore, Shaffer from Abington Heights, Agapito from Crestwood, Battaglia from Scranton and Moore from Tunkhannock.