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Coach Clay Basalyga (Tim Drewes Photo)

UPDATED: Johnson, Shields help team extend streak

Harry Johnson and Jason Shields led the surges that allowed the NEPA Elite Basalyga 17U boys team to pull away for a pair of victories today in the Hoop Group’s Labor Day Jam Fest at Competitive Edge Sports in King of Prussia.

Playing in the A Pool of the Open Division, NEPA Elite extended its winning streak to six games by defeating NOVA Cavaliers Grey-Mendes 11, 50-34, in the morning and HC Select Basketball, 75-50, in an early afternoon game.

The northern Virginia team led by as many as five early in the opener until NEPA Elite scored 10 straight points late in the half to take a 20-15 lead at the break.

The Cavaliers were still within 30-23 until Johnson did all the scoring while NEPA Elite outscored them, 13-4, in less than three minutes to break the game open.

Johnson, a 6-foot-5 rising senior forward from Abington Heights, used different approaches to produce his points. He hit a 3-pointer, tipped in a rebound, drove for a basket, hit a turnaround jumper in the lane, converted a teammate’s pass into an easy basket and made both his free throw attempts.

The 3-pointer by Johnson ended the team’s 0-for-12 start from beyond the arc.

Johnson finished 7-for-9 from the floor, 1-for-1 from 3-point range and 2-for-2 from the line while finishing with 17 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a blocked shot.

Justin Smith added eight points and six rebounds. Shields, who dished out three assists, and Andrew Ferguson scored six points each.

Shields and Ferguson led the way as NEPA Elite was in front throughout its second game. Shields, a 6-3 junior guard/forward from Scranton, had 18 of his 24 points in the first half and finished 8-for-12 from the floor along with 3 assists. Ferguson, a junior guard from Scranton Prep, did not miss a shot (six attempts from floor, two 3s and two free throws) while adding 16 points.

HC Select from Howard County, Md. was still within striking distance at 23-18 before Shields scored.

The drive by Shields started a stretch in which he scored 16 points in the last 6:38 of the half as NEPA Elite built the lead as high as 20 on the way to a 50-32 advantage at the break.

Shields made two 3-pointers and had a three-point play off a runner in the lane during the outburst. The 6-3 junior guard/forward from Scranton also banked in a 12-footer from the left side, tipped in a rebound and made one of two free throws after getting started on a drive.

NEPA Elite led by as many as 30 points before slowing its offense down late in the game.

Johnson had 12 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals. Smith had nine points, four rebounds and two steals. Austin Finarelli had five points, five rebounds and a team-high seven assists.

NEPA Elite shot 53.6 percent from the floor for the game.

Smith is a senior point guard from Pocono Mountain West. Finarelli is a junior guard from Dallas.

The team plays again Sunday at 11 a.m. against FAME Elite.


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