By Tom Robinson, NEPAElite.com
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – NEPA Elite got its final road trip of the summer off to a positive start Friday.
After winning their first two games of The Hoop Group Girls Championship Weekend at the Convention Center, however, NEPA Elite teams lost five straight, including five- and two-point games.
The teams from the club out of Riverfront Sports in Scranton will look to bounce back when the stakes are raised Saturday, Day Two of the four-day, season-ending event. In particular, the 15U Scoblick and 16U Rini teams will move into bracket play in pursuit of Hoop Group Showcase League titles.
A recap of Friday’s action:
NEPA Elite 15U Scoblick
NEPA Elite used a fast start and a strong defensive effort to overcome a stretch of 14:21 without a field goal and defeat Heat Hoops UMAAU-2025, 36-31, in a 15U Showcase game, which is not part of the bracket competition that will decide the season title.
Jackie Brown hit three straight second-half shots to finish with a team-high eight points. Those three baskets were the only field goals the team had in a span of 23:07.
NEPA Elite held Heat Hoops to five points for the first 12:32 and opened a pair of nine-point lead before the offensive struggles tightened the game.
Heat Hoops moved within 16-14 before Karsyn Kromko drew an offensive foul on one end and Brown scored on a drive while being fouled on the other to slow the momentum.
Brown scored on a left-hand move in the post and a drive down the right side for a 22-16 lead at the midway point of the second half.
Heat Hoops hit its first two 3-pointers of the game during an 8-0 run to its first lead, then added its last for a 27-24 advantage with four minutes remaining.
Addison Kilmer tied the game between the 3-pointers.
Kilmer had a three-point play with 1:07 left to break a 29-29 tie and put NEPA Elite ahead to stay. It was part of a closing, 12-4 run to produce the win.
Kromko and Lily Scoblick each hit both ends of a one-and-one in the final 42 seconds.
Natalie Goldstein had six points and a team-high eight rebounds. Kilmer also had six points.
Kromko finished with five points, five rebounds and three steals.
Amanda Dempsey also had five points, two assists and two steals. Dempsey assisted Kilmer’s late three-point play.
Maeve Haggerty had two assists and two steals.
Scoblick matched Kromko for the steals lead of three and Goldstein for the block lead with two.
NEPA Elite held Heat Hoops to 4-for-29 (13.8 percent) shooting in the first half, including 0-for-9 on 3-pointers.
Brown and Dempsey are from Dunmore. Kromko and Goldstein are from Honesdale. Kilmer is from Mountain View, Haggerty from Scranton Prep and Scoblick from Abington Heights.
NEPA Elite 14U Clark
NEPA Elite also had some offensive issues to overcome while holding off Western Mass Select, 40-36, in the 15U Platinum Division Pool D game.
Coming off a 14U Diamond Division Platinum Bracket title at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Chicago, the team is back to playing up an age group this week. It had 21 turnovers, including 14 in the second half.
Zya Small got NEPA Elite through those problems, hitting six straight shots at one point on the way to 18 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocked shots and 2 steals.
NEPA Elite missed its first six shots while going 6:08 without a score and falling behind, 6-1.
Chrissy Jacklinski hit a 3-pointer to end that drought and start a 10-0 run to an 11-6 lead. Small had two baskets in the streak, converting her own rebound and then a Jacklinski assist.
NEPA Elite never trailed again.
Western Mass forced one more tie at 15-15 in the first half and then another with a 9-1 run from the game’s biggest lead into a 30-30 tie in the middle of the second half.
Small’s rebound and tough finish through a double team for a three-point play put NEPA Elite back ahead for good.
Kam Gallis made her last four shots after missing her first attempt. She finished with nine points.
Jacklinski had five points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Cora Castellani had six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Small and Jacklinski are from Scranton. Gallis is from Notre Dame of Bethlehem and Castellani is from Valley View.
NEPA Elite 16U Rini
The Fairfax Stars used hot shooting starts in both halves to overpower NEPA Elite, 53-26, in a 16U Showcase game in advance of the bracket to decide the season title.
Fairfax opened 10-for-14 for a 25-9 lead. After NEPA Elite scored the last five points of the first half, Fairfax went 9-for-12 to break open the game,49-18.
Ella Smith made her only three shots from inside the arc while leading NEPA Elite with eight points. She also had two steals.
Maya Jenkins had a team-high four assists, Maggie Coleman led in rebounds with four and Jenna Hillebrand had three steals.
Jenkins and Hillebrand are from Abington Heights. Smith is from Wallenpaupack and Coleman is from Abington Heights.
NEPA Elite 17U Haefele
NEPA Elite lost 71-36 to New England Storm 16U HGSL in a Showcase game, then dropped a 43-41 heartbreaker at night to LBA Academy-1 from Canada in the 17U Platinum Division Pool G opener.
LBA Academy scored the last eight points, including six while forcing four turnovers in the final minute. It scored the game-winner in the closing seconds after wrestling away an offensive rebound.
Brenna Hunt led the team in defeat with 9 points and 10 rebounds.
Mackenzie Schirg added seven points, seven rebounds and two assists.
Hunt and Schirg led the way as NEPA Elite outrebounded the bigger opponent, 34-33.
Mackenzie Perluke went 4-for-7 while scoring eight points.
Frankie Martinelli had seven points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists.
LBA Academy had beaten NEPA Elite by 22 a week ago.
Perluke had 12 points and Hunt 10 in the opening loss.
Schirg grabbed a team-high six rebounds and share the team assist lead of three with Jewlya McCullon and Ella Cooper.
McCullon scored nine points.
Martinelli had a pair of steals.
Hunt is from Lake-Lehman, Schirg from Lackawanna Trail, Perluke from Wyoming Valley West, Martinelli from Marian Catholic, McCullon from Old Forge and Cooper from Valley View.
NEPA Elite 16U Butler
Madelyn O’Shea led a big comeback by NEPA Elite before ultimately falling short, 44-39, against the South Jersey Titans in a 16U Platinum Division Pool C game.
O’Shea scored 10 points in less than 90 seconds to fuel a 17-4 run that allowed NEPA Elite to lead briefly in the second half.
South Jersey had held NEPA Elite to one basket in the first nine minutes for a 15-2 start.
O’Shea finished with 18 points, 14 of them in the second half.
Bella Dennebaum, who grabbed 10 rebounds, had all 7 of her points in the second half. She hit a 3-pointer to start the 17-4 run in which she also provided a spark with a blocked shot and steal.
O’Shea took a steal in for a score, hit two 3-pointers and scored on another drive during her outburst.
Dennebaum is from Scranton Prep and O’Shea is from Scranton.
NEPA Elite 14U Alers
The Boo Williams 14U team defeated NEPA Elite, 52-36, in a 14U Platinum Division Pool A opener.
Jackie Gallagher, who grabbed six rebounds, and Kayli McHugh, who hit three 3-pointers, shared the team scoring lead with nine points each.
Jaelyn Alers added eight points and two assists.
Gallagher is from Crestwood, McHugh from North Pocono and Alers from Scranton Prep.