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NEPA Flames Toomey’s defense tightens up

MANHEIM – NEPA Flames Toomey did not allow a basket for nearly 10 minutes in its Saturday morning opener on the way to a 35-22 victory over the Rockland Rockets at Spooky Nook Sports.

The Flames split two games for the second straight day in the Blue Chip Pre-Season Challenge, powered by Under Armour. The seventh-grade team out of Backcourt Hoops in Scranton goes into Sunday’s 10:10 finale with a 2-2 record in Pool QQ of the U14 level.

The Flames dropped their second Saturday game, 48-39, to the Panthers.

Rockland had a 9-5 lead over NEPA with 5:18 left in the half when the Flames used their defense to turn the game around.

The Flames got to the line often in the first half and converted nine free throws. They scored seven straight points for a 12-9 lead before the Rockets hit one foul shot.

Kaeli Romanowski’s three-point play off a drive in transition with 39 seconds left gave the Flames a 15-10 halftime lead.

Ciera Toomey hit the first of her two second-half 3-pointers to keep the streak going. The lead reached 21-11 – completing a 16-2 run – before the Rockets ended a 9:58stretch without a field goal.

Toomey had eight of her team-high nine points in the second half.

Avery McNulty added seven points.

The Flames put together another comeback late in the half of their second Saturday game, but this time the deficit was too large.

The Panthers used intense defensive pressure to open an 18-point lead in the first half. It scored nine straight to break a 4-4 tie and start a 21-3 run to a 25-7 lead.

The Flames put together a run of their own. Mackenzie Olsommer started and ended an 11-point streak to cut the deficit to 25-18 at halftime. Olsommer hit a 19-footer, which was followed by a Toomey 3-pointer, then made a steal and drove for a basket to end the half.

Romanowski hit two second-half 3-pointers and finished with 12 points. Toomey added eight.

Skylar Ardent added six points. Her basket, off a feed from Hailey Long to break the press with 4:36 left made it a 43-35 game with 4:36 left.

The Panthers scored the next five points to finally put the game away.

UPDATE: Defense carried NEPA Flames Toomey to one more victory in Sunday’s tournament finale. It defeated United New Jersey Kosakowski, 29-17, to finish with a winning record at 3-2.

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