The NEPA Elite 16U girls team quickly established its commitment to tough defense.
In its first competition ever, July 24-26 in the Summer Tip Off at Spooky Nook Sports in Manheim Township, Lancaster County, the 16U girls held their first three opponents to fewer than 30 points.
The stingy start led to two wins and a one-point loss for NEPA Elite, which went on to finish 3-2 in the 16U Division Pool E.
The team’s effort on the defensive end kept opponents out of their comfort zone.
“I think it’s just the work ethic of our girls,” 16U coach Morgan Birmelin said. “We have a really competitive group. From the get-go, something that we talked about defensively was making the other team uncomfortable. We don’t want them to be able to run the sets they want to run.”
That defensive work also helped a group that is still seeking to find its identity offensively, particularly in the half-court game.
“We’re best if we can score in transition,” Birmelin said.
Nadia Evanosky, a rising junior guard from Dallas, led the team offensively. She was the team’s most accurate shooter, hitting 39.0 percent while averaging 10.2 points.
“When she played well, everybody played well,” Birmelin said of Evanosky, who also ranked second in the team with 13 steals and tied for fourth with 18 rebounds.
Kallie Booth, a sophomore from Pittston Area, led the team in steals (15) and free throws made (9) while sharing the assist lead (7) and finishing second in scoring with 28 points.
“She played well defensively and played every unselfishly as well,” Birmelin said.
Julia Glowacki led in 3-pointers with 4 made while ranking third with 26 points.
“She hit some big shots to get us going,” Birmelin said.
Katherine Shepherd, a junior guard/forward from Western Wayne, was the team’s co-leader in rebounds (24) and fourth-leading scorer (23).
Cadie Lewis, a sophomore point guard from Dunmore who is the team’s shortest player, shared the rebound (24) and assist leads (7) while ranking fifth in points (16).
“She’s probably one of the best leaders on our team,” Birmelin said. “She is tough as nails. She does a lot of dirty work for us.”
Tunkhannock sophomore Anna Williams was third on the team in rebounds and was the most accurate free throw shooter, going 7-for-8 (87.5 percent).
North Pocono sophomore guard Sam Polishan, Old Forge junior guard Brooke Arnold, Abington Heights sophomore guard Lizzie Pettinato and Holy Cross sophomore guard Carsyn Cole also played in the opening event. Arnold reached double figures in total points and rebounds for the weekend, Polishan got there in points and Pettinato in rebounds.
A look back at the first five games:
NEPA Elite 34, Maryland Lady Assassins-Glover 22
NEPA Elite allowed just one 3-pointer while winning its debut.
The defense made 15 steals, including 4 each by Lewis and Booth, while allowing just 10 field goals.
NEPA Elite opened a 21-9 halftime lead and never trailed. Shepherd and Glowacki each had five points in a 10-2 run to a 21-8 lead.
Evanosky led the offense with eight points.
Shepherd grabbed six rebounds.
District One Basketball Academy-Tague 10th 29, NEPA Elite 28
A late comeback attempt fell just short in the second game of opening day.
NEPA Elite led, 18-12, at halftime, but struggled offensively and fell behind in the second half.
Trailing by three, NEPA Elite got a basket on an Evanosky drove with about five seconds left. It was unable to follow that up with a steal of the in-bounds pass or a foul and time ran out.
Lewis finished with seven points and five rebounds while Shepherd had six points and six rebounds.
Evanosky also scored six points.
Both had five points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists.
NEPA Elite 33, Red Lion Flash 22
NEPA Elite scored the game’s final 13 points to rally for the second time and post the victory.
Red Lion had scored the game’s first seven points before NEPA Elite answered with 12 straight on the way to an 18-13 halftime lead.
Evanosky scored a game-high 10 points, scoring four in the first-half streak, then the other six in the closing run.
Three of those baskets came directly off steals. Evanosky, who finished with five steals, went the length of the floor off of one steal, then took another one in from midcourt for consecutive baskets that erased a 22-19 deficit.
After putting the team ahead to stay, Evanosky blocked a shot, leading to a Booth 3-pointer on the other end. Evanosky also assisted Shepherd on the last basket of the game.
Shepherd’s contributions to the closing run included an assist on a Glowacki basket.
Booth finished with eight points and four steals.
NEPA Elite 39, Franklin Basketball Club 32
Evanosky had the team’s highest-scoring game of the weekend, going 7-for-14 from the floor while scoring 17 points to wrap up Saturday’s action on a winning note.
Evanosky also led on the defensive end with four steals and grabbed four rebounds.
Booth added seven points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Fencor Peeps 48, NEPA Elite 38
Both teams entered the game with 3-1 records with the only loss coming against District One Basketball Academy-Tague.
Fencor, from Fort Washington, Pa., emerged with the victory in the only Sunday game.
Glowacki scored a team-high 11 points and Evanosky added 10 in the loss.
Williams grabbed eight rebounds, the team’s best individual game effort of the weekend.