The NEPA Elite Clark 17U girls split two games today to finish 2-1 in their pool and advance to bracket play at The Challenge, a Select Events tournament at Spooky Nook Sports in Manheim Township, Lancaster County.
NEPA Elite placed second out of six teams in Pool A of the 2021 Division. The top two teams in each of four pools reached bracket play, split into four-team tournaments, while the other teams were assigned one consolation game each according to their pool finish.
After winning its only Saturday game, NEPA Elite dropped a 53-51 decision to Exodus before bouncing back with a 63-28 rout of the Riverside Hawks.
Exodus advances to face New York Havoc Blue, the last two teams to defeat NEPA Elite Clark, in a semifinal of the bracket for first-place teams.
NEPA Elite will face City Rocks-Danzy Monday at noon in a semifinal of the bracket for second-place teams.
A swarming defense and a running game to take full advantage of it led NEPA Elite to score 29 points in 5:47 early in the second half of the romp over Riverside to improve to 16-3 on the season and advance in the tournament.
It all started with 10 straight points, all off of steals, in 1:06 to begin the half and nearly double the halftime lead to 35-14.
Rachael Rose got on the floor for a steal and slipped the ball to Ciera Toomey, who fired ahead to Cecelia Collins for a layup.
Toomey made a steal, which quickly led to Rose finding Moriah Murray for an open 3-pointer in transition.
Murray came up with the ball off a Toomey deflection, then got it back to her on the other end for a three-play.
Kylie Lavelle’s pressure led to an errant pass that Collins stole. They were joined on a 3-on-1 break by Rose, who finished off a feed from Collins.
They barely slowed down from there.
By the time the unit start began the half checked out of the game, the lead was at 54-23 with 9:22 remaining.
Collins scored 11 of the 29 points. Rose had seven points, Murray made two 3-pointers and Toomey scored five points.
All Lavelle did on the offensive end was assist the last five baskets in succession, including one where she grabbed an offensive rebound and located Murray beyond the arc.
NEPA Elite shot 50 percent for the game and placed three scorers in double figures.
Collins finished with 17 points and 3 steals.
Toomey added 14 points and 5 rebounds. Maria Belardi made three 3-pointers while scoring 11 points. Rose had nine points and four steals.
Murray assisted on six of the team’s first seven baskets during a 17-5 start. She finished with eight assists.
Olivia Ciullo led with six rebounds.
The top four scorers shot a combined 21-for-29 (72.4 percent).
Those were not the only impressive shooting statistics.
The team was 13-for-18 (72.2 percent), including 4-for-7 (57.1 percent) on 3-pointers during the fast start to the second half.
It was also a fast start to the second half by Exodus that got NEPA Elite in trouble in the first game of the day.
Much of that also was the result of steals.
NEPA Elite led 21-19 late in the half, but Exodus scored the last four points of the half to begin a 25-8 run to a 15-point lead.
A late comeback ran out of time.
Collins scored 11 points in the loss while Rose, Toomey and Lavelle added 10 each. Rose also had seven assists while Toomey had five rebounds.
City Rocks is from the Capital Region of upstate New York. Like NEPA Elite, it won twice and suffered its only loss by two points.