By Tom Robinson
SCRANTON – The NEPA Elite Coyle 17U boys teams made the most of one last chance to play together.
The team thought its AAU season was over before a spot opened up with Riverfront Sports hosting the Electric City Shootout, a Marquee Hoops event today and Sunday.
NEPA Elite picked up two games this morning and won both handily, showing off a variety of weapons.
“They’ve been a great group,” coach Brian Coyle said. “They’ve had fun all year long and they worked really hard.
“We were able to have fun through that process and it was a great group to be around – always positive, always moving forward, so I think pulling us back into this last tournament allowed us to have one last special moment together.”
Justice Shoats, a junior guard from Holy Redeemer, and Ethan Meuser, a senior forward from Wyoming Seminary, scored in double figures in both games.
Christian Fermin, a junior from Pocono Mountain West, had a double-double in the opener.
Many others contributed.
Fermin and Meuser each blocked eight shots while Caleb Vigil had a team-high seven steals, and Gavin Bednarz had five assists. Vigil is from Lakeland and Bednarz is from Scranton Prep.
“We were a little rusty, but for the most part our style of play really affects our opponents,” Coyle said after NEPA Elite allowed just 8 points over its last 20 minutes together.
NEPA Elite scored first and led the whole way in both games to improve its season record to 16-8.
NEPA Elite 64, Boys2Men(1) 41
Fermin led the way with 18 points and 12 rebounds while Shoats went 8-for-9 from the floor to add 17 points in the early-morning win.
Meuser had 11 points and 5 blocked shots while Wilkes-Barre Area’s Cole Walker chipped in with the first of two straight 8-point efforts.
NEPA Elite outscored Boys2Men, 15-6, over the last 9:35.
Vigil had 4 of the team’s 14 steals and Fermin had 4 of the 14 offensive rebounds.
Bednarz and Michael Skoff, another player from Scranton Prep, each had three assists.
NEPA Elite shot 17-for-29 (58.6 percent) while taking a 38-27 halftime lead.
NEPA Elite 54, PPA Performance 24
NEPA Elite did not shoot nearly as well in the second game, but made up for it with a dominant effort on the offensive boards.
The team missed its first seven 3-point attempts and was 4-for-19 from the floor in the first 8 minutes, but made up for it by turning 10 offensive rebounds in the first 6:45 into 9 points.
Meuser, Vigil, Walker and Ryan Harder all had two of the early rebounds.
Harder, a senior from Tunkhannock, finished the first half as the team leader in points with seven and rebounds with six to help NEPA Elite to a 30-17 lead.
“I thought our ball movement was really good against their zone,” Coyle said. “ … We got a lot of open looks and open 3s, but we weren’t making them.”
That changed in the second half when NEPA Elite started 6-for-7 and broke the game open.
Shoats went 5-for-9 to share scoring honors of 10 points each with Meuser. Shoats finished the day 13-for-18 (72.2 percent) from the floor.
Fermin had eight rebounds, three assists and seven blocked shots while Meuser had seven rebounds, three assists and three blocks.
All nine of the team’s players had at least 1 of the 18 offensive rebounds. Jagger Dressler from Danville had two offensive rebounds in the second half to join six others who had at least two in the game.
Shoats had four steals and Vigil three.