When high school basketball returned in District 2 for the first time in 10 months, NEPA Elite players immediately stepped to the forefront.
The three highest-scoring players in Friday’s openers all spent their summer and fall playing AAU basketball for the first-year program out of Riverfront Sports in Scranton.
Ryan Harder scored 29 points, including 4 of the game’s last 5, to rally the Tunkhannock boys to a 52-50 victory over Northwest.
Claire Dougherty went 11-for-14 from the floor, hitting all three of her 3-point attempts, to finish with 27 points when the Lake-Lehman girls routed defending District 2-4 Class 6A Subregional champion Hazleton Area, 65-32.
Dougherty also had eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocked shots.
Cole Walker had 18 of his 26 points in the first half when the Wilkes-Barre Area boys defeated Hanover Area, 65-42.
The impact by NEPA Elite players continued through Saturday.
Austin Finarelli scored 24 points and Nick Nocito added 21 in a 58-50 Dallas victory over the Crestwood boys.
Finarelli scored 22 points in the last 11:22 to lead Dallas back from a six-point deficit. He also finished with eight rebounds, six assists and three steals.
Kayla Rose had 21 points and 8 rebounds while Kylie Lavelle contributed 16 points and 7 assists when the Riverside girls routed Hanover Area, 60-2.
Walker helped Wilkes-Barre Area get to 2-0 when he scored 18 points, hit two free throws with less than two seconds remaining, then stole the in-bounds pass to clinch a 51-49 boys victory over Lake-Lehman.