Kylie Lavelle keyed a fast start, Ciera Toomey wound up as leading scorer and the NEPA Elite 17U girls got contributions from the entire 10-player roster while opening the Hoop Group Girls Championship HGSL Division with a 60-39 victory over New Jersey Freedom Friday night at Spooky Nook Sports in Manheim Township, Lancaster County.
NEPA Elite gave an indication of why it is the 16-team tournament’s top seed after a strong performance in the Hoop Group Showcase League throughout its first season.
Toomey went 5-for-7 from the floor while scoring 10 points to lead a balanced attack as the team moved into Saturday’s noon semifinal against Long Island Lightning – Flynn, a 67-55 winner over Syracuse Royals 2021.
NEPA Elite (22-4) started and finished strong.
Lavelle had six points, four rebounds and two assists to help NEPA Elite jump out to a 16-4 lead 6½ minutes into the game. She added another basket for the last of her eight points before heading to the bench for the first time a minute later.
Moriah Murray, Toomey’s teammate at Dunmore High School, was 4-for-6 while adding nine points and a team-high four rebounds.
New Jersey used a 3-pointer at the buzzer to get within 28-20 at halftime.
The Freedom got as close as six early in the second half was still within eight when Cecelia Collins hit a 3-pointer with 10:32 left to start a 15-4 run to a 52-33 lead.
Murray scored twice during the run, which included points from six different players.
Spreading the offense around was a big part of the game.
All 10 players scored.
Skylar Bianchi added seven points, Rachael Rose and Olivia Ciullo had six each and Clair Marion had five.
Rose took just three shots, making a pair of 3-pointers.
Ciullo grabbed a team-high seven rebounds while Collins had six.
Maria Belardi blocked two shots, Kaeli Romanowski made two steals and Collins grabbed all of her rebounds on that end of the floor to lead the defense.
NEPA Elite finished 24-for-45 (53.3 percent) from the floor and led in rebounds, 35-20.
Collins, Rose and Belardi all play at Scranton Prep. Lavelle is from Riverside, Bianchi from Valley View, Ciullo from Old Forge, Marion from Abington Heights and Romanowski from Western Wayne.
If NEPA Elite reaches the semifinal of the season-ending tournament, it will be right back out on the court at 1:15 p.m. against the winner of the New Jersey Shoreshots/New Hope Academy-Caldwell game.
NOTE: All statistics updated from an earlier post after being corrected, where needed, through a review of game film.