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The 15U team was the first NEPA Elite boys squad (in blue) in action. (Jamie Monahan Photo)

All four boys teams post first wins

BOYS GAME DAY: Saturday, 7/25


Gavin Bednarz used the transition game to put together a personal, 11-point scoring streak and, in the process, transitioned NEPA Elite Coyle 17U’s second game from a tight battle into a comfortable victory.

Bednarz scored 13 of his team-high 18 points in the second half and NEPA Elite pulled away for a 61-43 over New York Lightning Black in a 17U Pool E game in the Pennsylvania Tip-Off at East Stroudsburg University.

After Cole Walker scored 10 of his 16 points in the first half to help NEPA Elite to a 27-19 lead, New York used two 3-pointers and a three-point play to put together a 9-2 burst that closed the gap to 33-30.

The lead was at just 37-32 before Bednarz got his streak started with a runner in the lane, then got back into the lane four more times on the fastbreak.

The rising senior at Scranton Prep went coast-to-coast for a pull-up, 12-footer, turned a back-court steal into a three-point play, scored on a breakaway, then added the last basket when goaltending was ruled on his drive.

The breakaway was a result of Ethan Meuser blocking a shot and Jagger Dressler tipping the long rebound ahead to spring Bednarz.

Meuser had two of the team’s eight blocked shots. Christian Fermin had three, Brandon Hall two and Ryan Harder one.

Dressler’s hustle play was one of many in a game that saw him make two of his three shots while finishing with four points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals.

The Bednarz streak opened a 48-32 lead and even though New York immediately answered with consecutive 3-pointers, NEPA Elite kept its advantage in double figures the rest of the way.

Walker had put together a first-half streak, which also featured all the scoring coming from the paint, to put NEPA Elite ahead to stay.

New York was up 10-8 before Walker scored six straight on two drives and a putback to start a 16-3 run in which he had the team’s first 10 points.

Meuser finished with a team-high 10 rebounds along with 6 points.

Justice Shoats had six points and six rebounds.

In addition to their blocked shots, Fermin had six rebounds and two steals while Hall had six points and four rebounds.

Walker and Hall are from Wilkes-Barre Area. Meuser plays for Wyoming Seminary, Dressler for Danville, Fermin for Pocono Mountain West, Harder for Tunkhannock and Shoats for Holy Redeemer.


UPDATED: 11:56 p.m.

After about five months away from competitive basketball, Ryan McGoff and the NEPA Elite 15U boys team he coaches needed some time to adjust.

“The first couple of minutes of the first game, it was weird to be out there,” McGoff said after his team split its first two games in the coronavirus-delayed AAU season, “but, once everything settled down, I was so happy to be back.”

The four NEPA Elite boys teams played for the first time Saturday, combining to finish 5-3 after an 0-2 start. The new club, based out of Riverfront Sports in Scranton, had to wait to get together and even go through tryouts when the entire spring season was canceled because of public health and social distancing requirements.

The 15U boys had some particular hurdles to get over.

They rallied late, but lost, 54-51, to Virginia Supreme Elite, then picked up their first win, 51-28, over the Lehigh Valley Force.

The 15U boys have the club’s smallest roster with just eight players and they are the only one of the seven NEPA Elite boys and girls teams that does not have a single set of high school teammates working together.

The smaller roster for practices meant the team has not been working five-on-five.

“Our eight guys go to eight different schools,” said McGoff, who is an assistant men’s coach at Misericordia University. “They’ve got to get used to playing together and just communicating on defense.

“I thought in the second game we did a much better job of doing that, getting under screens and helping each other out.”

The offense also improved. After relying more on the leading scorer Danny Nemitz from Mid Valley in the first game, NEPA Elite showed better balance in the second game.

“I knew that the first couple minutes were going to be rough,” McGoff said. “After the first 10 minutes of the first game, we played just the way I wanted us to.”

McGoff came away impressed by guard Conor Holland, the program’s only out-of-state player. Holland commutes in from Marathon Central (N.Y.) so the coach has only seen him in tryouts and practice.

“I was very impressed with what he can do,” McGoff said. “He was able to step outside and knock down some shots.

“He was also able to get to the rim and I thought he made good decisions with the ball, knowing when to give it up and when to take it to the basket.”


UPDATED: 10:59 p.m.

Jason Shields and Nick Nocito each made three 3-pointers and scored more than 20 points to lead NEPA Elite Basalyga 17U to a successful debut with a 67-50 victory over Heat Elite in a Pennsylvania Tip-Off 17U Pool A game at East Stroudsburg University.

Shields, a rising junior guard/forward at Scranton High School, split his production equally over each half while scoring a team-high 22 points.

Nocito, a junior guard from Dallas, had 15 of his 21 points in the first half to help NEPA Elite to a 33-23 halftime lead.

NEPE Elite had a 39-34 lead with 9:57 left, then gradually stretched it out the rest of the way to win comfortably.

Austin Finarelli, Nocito’s Dallas teammate, scored 8 of his 10 points in the second half.

Harry Johnson from Abington Heights added a 3-pointer while finishing with eight points.


UPDATED: 6:48 p.m.

Two streaks – one individual, one team – assured the NEPA Elite Coyle 17U boys of a successful debut.

Justice Shoats made eight straight shots on the way to a game-high 20 points and NEPA Elite scored the game’s final 17 points to pull away for a 60-40 victory over the York Ballers in the Pennsylvania Tip-Off at East Stroudsburg University.

NEPA Elite shut out York, one of the teams that is joining it in the Hoop Group Showcase League, for nearly 10 minutes to end the game.

York scored in the closing seconds to take a 26-25 halftime lead, but Shoats was just getting started.

The Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2 Player of the Year as a sophomore at Holy Redeemer in 2019-20, Shoats had 12 points and 5 of his 6 rebounds in the second half.

Riverside’s Michael Rickert hit four 3-pointers while scoring 12 points.

Gavin Bednarz from Scranton Prep scored all eight of his points in the closing run.

Wyoming Seminary’s Ethan Meuser added seven points and two blocked shots.

Christian Fermin, a 6-foot-8 forward from Pocono Mountain West, grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds while also scoring 4 points and blocking 2 shots.

Brandon Hall from Wilkes-Barre Area had four points, six rebounds and three blocked shots.

Rickert’s 3-pointer from the left corner erased the final York lead and ignited a 24-2 closing run. It was the last of four straight 3-point attempts that Rickert made and it created the last of seven second-half lead changes.


UPDATED: 6:08 p.m.

The NEPA Elite Coyle 17U boys team made it 2-0 for its first day of competition, finishing the day with a 61-43 victory over New York Lightning Black in the Pennsylvania Tip-Off at East Stroudsburg University.

The win means NEPA Elite boys teams finished their first day with a 5-3 record, winning five of six after losing their first two.

MORE: Return to this page for more details about the strong finish.


UPDATED: 3:38 p.m.

A late rally by NEPA Elite Basalyga 17U came up short, allowing Team Elevation from South Brunswick, N.J. to escape with a 54-51 victory in a 17U Division Pool A game at the Pennsylvania Tip-Off.

The Basalyga team joins the 16U and 15U teams in taking 1-1 record into their final games at East Stroudsburg University Sunday.

The NEPA Elite Coyle 17U team is coming up on the first of its two games today. It opens against the York Ballers, a Hoop Group Showcase League opponent, at 4 p.m.


UPDATED: 2:33 p.m.

The NEPA Elite boys now have a cumulative winning record in the Pennsylvania Tip-Off, a Hoop Group event at East Stroudsburg University.

NEPA Elite Basalyga 17U made a successful debut, closing strong in a 17U Division Pool A game for a 63-47 victory over Heat Elite.

After the 16U and 15U teams simultaneously lost in their first games, the teams from the new AAU club out of Riverfront Sports in Scranton have won three straight.

The 16U and 15U teams are done for the day at 1-1. The Basalyga team is playing again after a brief break.


UPDATED: 1:43 p.m.

The NEPA Elite 16U boys team finished off its doubleheader by excelling in double overtime.

The 16U boys posted their first win, evening their Pennsylvania Tip-Off record at 1-1 by outlasting Lehigh Valley Force Navy, 53-50, this afternoon at East Stroudsburg University.

NEPA Elite led most of the way after using a 10-point run to take a 15-6 lead in the first half.

Lehigh Valley forced a 32-32 tie before NEPA Elite responded with six straight points.

The Force scored four straight late to take a 44-43 lead into the closing seconds, then grabbed a defensive rebound with a chance to clinch the win.

Ryan Doherty from Delaware Valley stole the ball away and was fouled under the basket. Doherty hit the first of his two attempts to force overtime.

Scranton’s Arvel Chandler turned a steal into a breakaway for an early lead in the first overtime, but NEPA Elite did not score again in the session and Lehigh Valley responded to extend the game again, 46-46.

Jack Locker from Pittston Area helped get NEPA Elite through the second overtime.

Locker penetrated the Force defense to set up a three-point play by Matthew Cobb from Scranton Prep to open the scoring in the period and put NEPA Elite ahead to stay.

Chandler added another steal and layup for 51-46 lead.

Lehigh Valley closed within one, only to have Locker hit two late free throws to conclude the scoring.

The NEPA Elite 15U and 16U teams are done for the day with 1-1 records. They play again Sunday.

The two 17U teams from the Riverfront Sports-based club are up next. The NEPA Elite Basalyga 17U team is early in its first game now.


UPDATED: 1:03 p.m.

The NEPA Elite 15U team delivered the first boys victory for the new AAU basketball club out of Riverfront Sports in Scranton early this afternoon when it defeated Lehigh Valley Force, 51-28, in the Pennsylvania Tip-Off at East Stroudsburg University.

After both the 15U and 16U teams lost close games in their openers, NEPA Elite 15U came out and allowed just four points for the first 11 minutes of its second game.

NEPA Elite took a 20-13 halftime lead, then outscored the Force, 31-15, in the second half.


UPDATED: 12:08 p.m.

The NEPA Elite 15U boys team kept battling back, but fell short in the first game ever played by a boys team from the new AAU club out of Riverfront Sports in Scranton.

The 15U boys twice turned double-figures deficits into a one-possession game before losing, 54-51, to Virginia Supreme Elite in their opener at the Pennsylvania Tip-Off, a Hoops Group event at East Stroudsburg University.

The 16U boys team started minutes later and is also attempting to fight back in the second half.

Both teams head right back out on the court for their second and final games of the day.


POSTED: 11:05 a.m.

The schedule listed at the bottom has been corrected to show the proper opponents.


POSTED: 9:26 a.m.

One day after the program’s girls teams played their first games ever, it is time for the four NEPA Elite boys teams to make their debuts.

NEPA Elite will have two 17U, one 16U and one 15U boys teams in action in the two-day Pennsylvania Tip-Off, a Hoop Group event at East Stroudsburg University. Each of the teams will play two games today and one Sunday.

Return to this page throughout the day for coverage of the boys teams in their openers.

Check out the Recent Posts listing on the right for links to the girls coverage and advance information about both weekend events.

Saturday’s schedule for NEPA Elite teams at East Stroudsburg University is below:











11 a.m. Mastroianni 16U/Pool D G2G Basketball PA Philadelphia, PA
11 a.m. McGoff 15U/Pool A Virginia Supreme Elite Herndon, VA
12:10 p.m. Mastroianni 16U/Pool D Lehigh Valley Force Navy Easton, PA
12:10 p.m. McGoff 15U/Pool A Lehigh Valley Force Easton, PA
1:30 p.m. Basalyga 17U/Pool A Heat Elite Whippany, NJ
2:40 p.m. Basalyga 17U/Pool A Team Elevation South Brunswick, NJ
4 p.m. Coyle 17U/Pool E York Ballers – HGSL York, PA
5:10 p.m. Coyle 17U/Pool E New York Lightning Black West Hempstead, NY


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