There will be times when the NEPA Elite Clark 17U AAU girls basketball team puts five high school all-state players on the court at one time.
At other times, there may be five future National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I players working together.
The frequency with which either is possible increased this week with the decision by first-team Class 3A all-state selection Kylie Lavelle to complete the AAU season with the team.
Lavelle, a versatile rising junior at Riverside, had been playing with the Philly Belles, who recently wrapped up their season.
The addition of Lavelle and the return of Scranton Prep senior Cecelia Collins from an injury strengthens the team going into The Challenge Saturday through Monday at Spooky Nook in Manheim Township, Lancaster County.
“Girls basketball in this area is extremely rich,” said Kevin Clark, the club’s founder and head coach of the team on which Lavelle will play. “To put all of this talent on one team and bring them to higher-level competitive tournaments and to be able to put this team out there with all those other teams says a lot about what we have in northeastern Pennsylvania as far as basketball players.”
Lavelle’s decision means that all of District 2’s top underclassmen girls in the 2019-20 season – based on post-season honors earned – are now playing for the first-year club out of Riverfront Sports in Scranton.
All six returning all-state players and all three returning NEPABasketball.com divisional Players of the Year are on the Clark team.
“My job is to try to balance all of this and make it effective,” Clark said. “The girls have great chemistry. They all are friends off the court.
“To be able to get them on the floor, sharing the basketball the way that they do, it’s kind of special to watch. Sometimes, I feel like I just kind of have to sit back and let them go out there.”
The seven underclassmen who were among the 11 players on the NEPABasketball.com all-District 2 team – the best players in the entire district, regardless of classification – are now in the program. Kaci Kranson from Holy Cross, a second-team, all-District 2 choice who was another in-season addition to the club, is playing for the NEPA Elite Genco 17U team.
As a 6-foot-1 sophomore, Lavelle spent most of the season as Riverside’s point guard, but she moved inside at times and has played other guard and forward positions between high school and AAU. She shot 54.6 percent from the floor for the Lady Vikes while averaging 21.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.1 offensive rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.2 steals.
Lavelle already has Division I scholarship offers from Lafayette College and Drexel University and has received considerable additional major college interest.
“The addition of Kylie is only going to benefit us with her size, her length and her abilities,” Clark said. “When you take a look at our team, I’m not sure how many times in the past with all-star teams or anything, you could say you have five legitimate Division I girls on the same team at once.”
At NEPA Elite, Lavelle will be playing with two Scranton Prep teammates, who are already committed to Division I scholarships. Collins is headed to Bucknell and Rachael Rose is committed to the University of South Carolina Upstate.
Dunmore’s Moriah Murray shared the first-team, all-state distinction with Lavelle and, like Lavelle, already has scholarship offers, including one from Drexel, heading into her junior season. Murray also has received offers from St. Joseph’s and Binghamton.
Ciera Toomey, the team’s only sophomore, is keeping up with the older teammates that are already headed for Division I, giving the impression that she is on her way to that status.
Old Forge’s Olivia Ciullo is another returning all-state and all-District 2 player.
Kaeli Romanowski from Western Wayne joined Rose and Murray as divisional Players of the Year.
They are part of an NEPA Elite Clark team that is 14-2 on the season.
Lavelle has played out of Riverfront Sports previously. She played for JB Hoops during the spring and summer of 2018.