Players from the NEPA Elite AAU program made an immediate impact when the high school basketball season got underway in District 2.
Five of the six players considered for the first Brucelli Advertising District 2 Players of the Week award had spent the summer and fall playing for NEPA Elite teams.
Wyoming Valley West’s Trinity Johnson was the first Girls Player of the Week.
Kylie Lavelle from Riverside and Claire Dougherty from Lake-Lehman were the others considered for the award.
Cole Walker from Wilkes-Barre Area and Austin Finarelli were two of the three players considered for the boys award.
The first award covered games from Jan. 8 through 18.
Johnson scored 27 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and hit both the tying and winning points late in overtime to lift the Lady Spartans over visiting Berwick, 58-56, one of the favorites in Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1.
“Playing such a hard team for the first game, we needed to come out strong and we needed to show all the other teams that we are capable of being in this,” said Johnson, a 6-foot-2 junior center/forward.
Johnson got to an offensive rebound with 1:11 left in overtime and converted to force a 56-56 tie.
When Johnson blocked a shot on a drive attempt and the ball went out of bounds off the Lady Bulldogs, the frustrated reaction of the Berwick player resulted in a technical foul with 4.6 seconds left.
Johnson took advantage, hitting both free throws for the winning points, finishing a 4-for-5 effort from the line.
Lavelle scored 85 points to help Riverside become the first District 2 team to go 4-0. She had 30 points in a win over Wyoming Area, the team’s second win on the season and the first of three straight in which the returning first-team, all-stater was the leading scorer. Lavelle led the team in assists in three games and twice had double-doubles while leading in rebounds.
Dougherty scored 50 points while leading Lake-Lehman to a 3-0 start. During the first game played in District 2 this season, she scored 27 points on 11-for-14 shooting and grabbed 8 rebounds to help the Lady Knights rout Hazleton Area, 65-32, in a rematch of last season’s WVC overall championship game.
Lavelle, who is already committed to play National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I basketball at Drexel University, and Dougherty are juniors.
Walker, a senior, led one of the two boys 4-0 starts in the time period, scoring 95 points, producing double-doubles and providing the game-winning points in the final 40 seconds of two- and four-point victories.
Finarelli led Dallas to a 58-50 victory over defending Wyoming Valley Conference Division 1 champion Crestwood in its only game. The junior guard scored 22 of his 24 points in the last 11½ minutes and also contributed 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals.