By Tom Robinson, NEPAElite.com
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Mackenzie Perluke scored 30 points in the final game of her NEPA Elite career as the club’s girls teams wrapped up the AAU basketball season Monday, the last of four days of The Hoop Group Championship Weekend.
A championship opportunity got away, but the two qualifiers for the Hoop Group Showcase League season championship brackets, the 16U Rini and 15U Scoblick teams, each finished 3-1 in those brackets. Adding a win on the final day was the 14U Clark team, which was back facing 15U opponents for the final weekend of a season that was highlighted by a national title with a 7-0 run to the Nike Tournament of Championships 14U Diamond Division Platinum bracket title in Chicago.
A recap for each Monday game for the teams from the club out of Riverfront Sports in Scranton;
NEPA Elite 17U Haefele
The club’s graduating players finished on a high note, winning two of their final three games and losing the other by a single point.
Perluke, who received 17U HGSL all-star recognition while playing up on the 2022 HGSL finalists, was the leading scorer on this year’s team. She finished with 30 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists in a 52-45 victory over the New England Panthers Varsity in the final game to wrap up at the Convention Center.
The game was part of the 17U Platinum Division consolation bracket.
Perluke went 10-for-15 from the floor. She scored 15 points in each half.
After going 7-for-12 from the floor and hitting one of her two 3-point attempts in the first half, Perluke made all three of her field goal attempts and was 7-for-10 at the line in the second half.
Mackenzie Schirg added nine points.
Molly Jenkins grabbed seven rebounds while Ella Cooper grabbed six along with dishing out four assists.
Lucie Racicky had four points, four rebounds and two steals.
Jewlya McCullon also had a pair of steals.
New England went on an 8-0 run in the middle of the second half to get within 38-35.
Schirg had four points during a 9-3 response that allowed NEPA Elite to take a 47-38 lead into the final minute.
A deep 3-pointer cut the NEPA Elite lead to 47-43 before Perluke scored the last five points of the game off Cooper assists, the second of which produced a clinching, three-point play.
Perluke is from Wyoming Valley West, Schirg is from Lackawanna Trail, Jenkins is from Lake-Lehman, Cooper from Valley View, Racicky from Holy Redeemer and McCullon from Old Forge.
NEPA Elite 16U Rini
NEPA Elite finished fifth in the 16-team championship bracket by taking both games in the four-team consolation bracket for teams that lost in the quarterfinals.
Jenna Hillebrand scored 20 points while leading a sharp-shooting finale that carried NEPA Elite past the DMV Lady Tigers, 66-54.
NEPA Elite wrapped up a 23-12 season by going 24-for-46 (52.2 percent) from the floor, 4-for-10 (40.0) on 3-pointers and 14-for-16 (87.5).
Hillebrand was 8-for-10 from the field, hitting her only 3-point attempt, and also made all three free throws. She also had six rebounds and three steals.
Maggie Coleman made both her 3-point tries while adding 12 points and all 7 players scored at least 5.
Maya Jenkins had nine points and two steals.
Ella Smith was 4-for-4 from the line on the way to eight points and three steals.
Maggie O’Shea was 3-for-4, missing on her only attempt from outside the arc, while finishing with six points and six rebounds.
Sophia Talutto had six points.
Claire McGrath scored five points while leading the team with four assists and sharing the team leads of six rebounds and three steals.
Hillebrand, Jenkins and McGrath are from Scranton Prep. Coleman is from Abington Heights, Smith from Wallenpaupack, Talutto from Dunmore and O’Shea from Scranton.
NEPA Elite 16U Butler
The Long Island Lightning finished strong to defeat NEPA Elite, 45-24, in a 16U Platinum Division consolation game.
NEPA Elite led 10-9 with six minutes left in the half, but Long Island’s defense dominated the rest of the way and the Lightning took control, beginning with an 18-2 run late in the half.
Bella Dennebaum scored eight points and grabbed seven rebounds.
Nevaeh Baran also had seven rebounds, along with three steals and two assists.
Madelyn O’Shea added six points.
Madeleine Walsh also had two assists.
Dennebaum is from Scranton Prep, Baran from Nanticoke, O’Shea from Scranton and Walsh from Abington Heights.
NEPA Elite 15U Scoblick
Katie Leggio came out hitting 3-pointers from the start, then Addy Nyemchek and Sophie Smith dominated inside defensively as the New Jersey Shoreshots ran away with the 15U Hoop Group Showcase League championship game over NEPA Elite, 59-22.
Leggio went 3-for-3 on 3-pointers in the first three minutes for a 9-0 lead.
The Shoreshots built the lead to 21-2, then 28-4 on the way to a 37-11 halftime advantage.
Liggio was 5-for-6 on 3-pointers in the first nine minutes, then added one second-half basket for a game-high 17 points.
NEPA Elite reached the title game behind the steady use of its multiple inside weapons, but Nyemchek and Sophie Smith took that away. Nyemchek repeatedly stole or deflected entry passes while Smith blocked shots.
Nyemchek, a 6-foot rising sophomore from Red Bank Catholic, had nine points, seven steals, five assists and two blocked shots.
Smith, a 6-2 power forward, had six points and five blocks.
Christina Liggio went 4-for-5 for nine points.
Smith and the Liggios also play at Red Bank Catholic.
Jackie Brown went 3-for-4 while finishing with team-highs of eight points and six rebounds for NEPA Elite.
Addison Kilmer had seven points and five blocked shots.
Maeve Haggerty and Celia DeCesare each had two assists.
Lily Scoblick grabbed five rebounds.
Brown is from Dunmore, Kilmer from Mountain View, Haggerty from Scranton Prep, DeCesare from Honesdale and Scoblick from Abington Heights.
NEPA Elite finished 26-10, taking second place in the HGSL, matching its seed going into the 16-team championship event.
NEPA Elite 14U Clark
NEPA Elite picked up a forfeit win in the 15U Platinum Division consolation bracket, then added a game with another team in a similar situation and turned it into a 62-35 blowout of Global Squad 15U.
Chrissy Jacklinski and Zya Small each scored 20 points and contributed much more.
Jacklinski was 8-for-18 from the floor and 3-for-4 from the line. She led a defense that forced 24 turnovers by making 8 steals. She also had seven rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots.
Small 8-for-13 from the floor and 4-for-6 from the line. She grabbed 12 rebounds, blocked 8 shots, dished out 4 assists and made 4 steals.
Ella Clementoni added 13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.
Kam Gallis had five points and five rebounds. Cora Castellani had four points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals.
The team had 19 steals and 13 blocked shots, including 16 steals by the midway point in the second half.
Clementoni had a 3-pointer and another basket and Small went coast-to-coast twice for four points during a 9-0 from the final tie to a 15-6 lead.
Jacklinski and Small are from Scranton. Clementoni is from North Pocono, Gallis from Notre Dame of Bethlehem and Castellani from Valley View.
NEPA Elite finished 29-6 while playing more than half its games in a higher age group.
NEPA Elite 14U Alers
The Wyoming Valley Junior Clutch took control early on the way to a 44-29 victory in the 14U Platinum Division consolation game.
Wyoming Valley scored the first 10 points, led 34-9 at halftime and added the first basket of the second half.
NEPA Elite gradually cut into the margin by outscoring the Clutch, 20-8, the rest of the way.
Jackie Gallagher led with eight points, four rebounds and three steals.
Emma Coleman had seven points, four rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots.
Jaelyn Alers added six points and two assists.
Gallagher is from Crestwood, Coleman from Abington Heights and Alers from Scranton Prep.