By Tom Robinson
SCRANTON – The Scranton Hilton Poinsettia Classic included a half dozen alumni of the JB Hoops AAU program, including two who received awards for their performances in the tournament.
Emily Sheehan was named tournament Most Valuable Player while Erica Haefele made the all-tournament team.
Sheehan’s University of Scranton team beat Haefele’s Misericordia University squad, 75-57, in Thursday’s tournament championship game.
The were joined in the tournament by Gianna Delfino and Morgan Haefele of Misericordia, Erin Worzel of Scranton and Lauren Franklin of Elmira College.
Sheehan had 7 of her 11 points and all 5 of her steals during the first half of the championship game to help Scranton take a 38-24 lead.
“Emily’s just the consummate leader,” first-year Scranton coach Nick DiPillo said. “Even though statistically the first three years she didn’t necessarily overwhelm you, she’s taking on a bigger offensive role while still guarding on a high level on the defensive end, while being a leader.”
The Landmark Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a junior, Sheehan has increased her scoring average each season from 3.5 to 7.1 to 8.9 to the current 11.3, which ranks second on a balanced team.
The senior guard from Dunmore is also contributing 3.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game while shooting 42.6 percent from 3-point range.
Sheehan is the team’s most accurate 3-point shooter and is second in total 3-pointers made with 20.
“She didn’t shoot the ball great (Thursday), but her impact on both ends of the floor, I couldn’t even put a value on it,” DiPillo said.
Sheehan had four of her steals in the first quarter when Scranton forced Misericordia into 11 of its 30 turnovers.
“Even though we’re going to try to score as many points as we can, we always know that if our defense is there and we’re able to turn other teams over, then no matter whether our shots are going in or not, we’ll always have a chance to win,” Sheehan said.
Sheehan led the Lady Royals with 18 points in 20 minutes during a 95-43 semifinal rout of Elmira College.
The Lady Royals are 9-0, have not allowed an opponent closer than eight points and are ranked second in the country among National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III teams. They host Rosemont Saturday afternoon, then play two games in the D3hoops.com Classic in Las Vegas Dec. 28 and 30.
“We’re definitely where we want to be,” Sheehan said. “Being undefeated is a great feeling for us.
“We have some hard games ahead of us in Vegas, then we have conference play, so we just want to keep improving.”
Erica Haefele is one of the big reasons Misericordia won its first nine before falling to Scranton.
The junior guard from Mid Valley has made multiple 3-pointers in every game of the season. She was 9-for-15 in the Poinsettia Classic while scoring 29 points in the two games and is 14-for-24 (58.3 percent) from long range in the last four games.
Erica Haefele ranks 11th nationally in 3-point percentage at 48.3 and is tied for 17th in 3-pointers made per game at 2.9.
“Not only does she work her tail off every single day toward making herself better, but also toward making her teammates better,” Misericordia coach Jason Rhine said of Erica Haefele, also an intense defender at 5-4. “I’ve said this since recruiting Erica that her heart is two times bigger than what she stands.
“She’s been great in every facet of the game and I could not be prouder of her.”
Erica Haefele is averaging 12.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists. She is hitting 72 percent of her free throws.
Delfino has started every game as a freshman.
Rhine said he is able to use the 5-foot-11 Dunmore graduate in every position on the floor. She has spent most of her time at forward and as a wing guard.
Delfino scored 20 points in her second college game, has reached double figures in rebounds 5 times and had 8 assists in the tournament semifinal win over Salisbury State. She had 7 rebounds in 15 minutes during the loss to Scranton.
For the season, Delfino is averaging 8.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.5 steals while shooting 45.6 percent from the floor.
Morgan Haefele also made an impact as early as the second game against Gwynedd Mercy when she had 10 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
Also known for her defensive toughness, Morgan Haefele is playing 15 minutes per game and contributing 2.3 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game. She is 3-for-6 on 3-pointers.
“Right now, her role is that scrappiness that she provides us,” Rhine said.
Worzel, a sophomore forward/center from Wallenpaupack, had three points, a rebound and a steal while matching her season-high of 10 minutes in the Elmira game. She has 9 points and 5 rebounds while playing a total of 42 minutes in 6 games.
Lauren Franklin, a senior forward from Holy Cross, is part of the Elmira team that slipped to 2-7 with two losses in the tournament.
Franklin has started all 9 games this season and 70 of 76 in her career at Elmira. She had 10 points and 8 rebounds during the tournament and is averaging 7.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists on the season.