By Tom Robinson
SCRANTON – Three-point shooting carried the NEPA Elite 16U girls through their closest game of the weekend Friday night and to an easy victory Saturday on the way to a 3-0 performance in the Summer Showdown at Riverfront Sports.
Most of the offense generated by the NEPA Elite 16U girls team in its first month has come from steals, other forms of the transition game, offensive rebounds and occasional drives.
The perimeter game became a factor in the latest event with five straight 3-pointers down the stretch in one game and a strong full-game effort in another.
“I think we’re settling in in our offense a little bit more,” 16U girls head coach Morgan Birmelin said after Saturday’s win. “The girls are jelling well together.
“We had two great practices this week where we really focused a lot on our offense, just so we can be more confident in it.”
Julia Glowacki, who made three, and Katherine Shepherd combined for the 5-for-5 finish that allowed NEPA Elite to break away for a 52-37 victory over the Syracuse Royals 15U team in a High School Girls Division game Friday night.
The team was barely above 20 percent for the season from beyond the arc before that big finish.
The accurate shooting was again a factor in Saturday’s game.
Gianna Dickson and Brooke Arnold were each 2-for-2, Kallie Booth was 3-for-5 and Sam Polishan made her only attempt while the team was putting together its best game from long range with a 9-for-16 effort in a 46-17 rout of JCC.
“We got a lot of shots up this week,” Birmelin said. “They seem to really be in a rhythm.”
Birmelin described the Friday finish as “fun” and said it was nice to continue that into the next day.
The team wrapped up the event by winning again Sunday. Both the Saturday and Sunday were in the 10th Grade Girls Division.
Booth, a rising sophomore guard from Pittston Area, led the team in both points (23) and steals (15) during the three wins while helping it improve to 8-5 on the season.
“She’s a little firecracker,” Birmelin said. “She always adds a lot of energy when she gets on the floor. She just hustles and works hard and goes 110 percent for as long as she can.
“It was contagious (Saturday), especially on the press.”
The team gave itself many extra chances with 57 steals and 53 offensive rebounds.
Anna Williams, a sophomore guard/forward from Tunkhannock, led the team in offensive rebounds with 10.
Shepherd, a sophomore guard/forward from Western Wayne, led the team in field goals and blocked shots. She was also the second-leading scorer and tied for second-leading rebounder during the Summer Showdown.
Juniors Glowacki, from Crestwood, and Dickson, from Scranton Prep, were each 5-for-11 on 3-pointers. Glowacki also led the team in defensive (12) and total rebounds (17).
Nadia Evanosky, a junior guard from Dallas who is the team’s leading scorer for the season, led with 12 assists and was 8-for-8 from the line. She also matched Shepherd for second on the team with 15 rebounds in the event.
A recap of the weekend games:
NEPA Elite 52, Syracuse Royals 15U 37
NEPA Elite was in front for the last 19:45, but Syracuse was within 37-34 before the 3-pointers keyed a 15-3, closing run.
Glowacki got it started with 3:04 left.
The team regained possession with a steal and Shepherd hit from the right corner to open a 43-34 lead.
Glowacki scored again from the left wing with 1:34 left, then Shepherd scored from the left corner to make it 49-36 with a minute left.
The game’s final points came on another 3-pointer by Glowacki.
Glowacki finished 4-for-6 on 3-pointers and 5-for-7 overall while leading the team with 14 points and sharing team leads of 6 rebounds and 5 steals.
Shepherd, who also grabbed six rebounds, and Evanosky, who had five rebounds and four assists, each scored nine points.
Booth made five steals and dished out four assists to share in those team leads.
Arnold, a junior from Old Forge, and Polishan, a sophomore from North Pocono, had 3-pointers to start and finish a 12-point streak that erased the last deficit and put NEPA Elite ahead 22-13 with 1:54 left in the half.
NEPA Elite 46, JCC 17
Booth was the first player off the bench early in the game and wound up being involved in five of the team’s first six baskets in a 17-point streak to erase the only deficit.
After being scoreless for 3:20, Booth got NEPA Elite started with a mid-court steal and drive. She followed with another steal in the backcourt and set up the go-ahead basket by Williams.
Booth’s lead pass in transition found Evanosky for a basket.
A 3-pointer by Booth made it 12-2.
In her first stint on the court, Booth provided five points, three rebounds, three steals and two assists in less than five minutes.
Dickson added the last five points of the streak to a 17-2 lead.
JCC ended a stretch of 9:07 without a field goal, but Polishan, Booth and Arnold all drained 3-pointers to spark 11 straight points in under three minutes for a 28-5 lead in the last minute of the half.
The lead grew as high as 44-10 on a Dickson 3-pointer with 4:10 left.
Booth led the way with 11 points, 4 assists and 4 steals.
Dickson and Arnold each added eight points.
Williams had six of her team-high seven rebounds on the offensive end where Evanosky produced four of her six.
Lizzie Pettinato, a sophomore guard from Abington Heights, had four assists and three steals.
NEPA Elite 39, Delhi Elite 25
NEPA Elite overcame offensive droughts to begin and end its Sunday game.
Defense kept NEPA Elite within, 6-3, when the team went 1-for-14 in the first six minutes.
Williams started a streak of seven straight points with a putback, then added a go-ahead, 3-pointer.
NEPA Elite also missed its last 11 shots while going scoreless for the final five minutes, but Booth’s steal and breakaway had already created a 39-21 lead by then.
Booth scored eight points and made six steals.
Shepherd shared the scoring honors with eight points.
Glowacki grabbed nine rebounds while Evanosky provided five assists and four steals.