NEPA Sports Nation

13U girls team claims regional title

Chrissy Jacklinski scored 12 of her 21 points over the final 9 minutes Sunday afternoon at Riverfront Sports in Scranton to rally the NEPA Elite Fenton 13U girls team to a 49-47 overtime victory over the New Jersey Sparks in the 2027 Division championship game of The Ladies Ball Northeast Regional.

The victory earns NEPA Elite entry into The Ladies Ball, an event scheduled Oct. 7-10 in Knoxville, Tenn. in partnership with the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Jacklinski hit six of her last seven shots from the floor and made one of two free throws exactly halfway through the two-minute overtime to put NEPA Elite ahead to stay.

Ella Clementoni joined her in double figures in scoring, Zya Smalls put together a strong all-around game and Eva Kaszuba provided the 3-pointer that started the comeback.

Clementoni finished with 11 points.

Smalls had 5 points, 12 rebounds, 7 blocked shots, 6 assists and 3 steals. The final steal came on a side in-bounds play by the Sparks in their offensive end with 1.6 seconds left in overtime. Smalls immediately headed up court, dribbling out the remaining time.

NEPA Elite opened a 23-14 lead late in the first half and had not trailed until New Jersey put together a run at that point.

The Sparks took their first lead during a 21-6 run at 28-27 with 12:29 to play.

That advantage lasted just 14 seconds as Jacklinski, who had 14 points in the last 14:15, scored on a drive.

New Jersey ran off the next seven points to open its biggest lead.

Kaszuba’s 3-pointer with 7:25 left stopped the momentum.

After the Sparks answered with a putback, Jacklinski scored the next five points on a drive for a 3-pointer and a 19-footer to force a 37-37 tie.

A free throw gave New Jersey its final lead, before Smalls found Jacklinski to break the press and put NEPA Elite back in front, 39-38.

Jacklinski, who also had six rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots, found Clementoni to complete what became a 9-1 run to a 41-38 lead.

Smalls helped open the lead to five points with a minute left in regulation. She again broke the press, this time setting up a Cora Castellani basket, then blocked a shot, controlled the rebound, dribbled the length of the floor and fed Jacklinski on the break for a 45-40 lead.

New Jersey forced overtime with a 3-pointer with two seconds remaining.

Each team scored in the first 13 seconds of the two-minute extra session.

Smalls won the tip and NEPA Elite quickly put together two passes for a layup with Jacklinski converting a Clementoni assist.

Jacklinski broke the last tie by making the second of two free throws and Clementoni made the first of her two with 33.4 seconds left for the game’s final point.

Ava Fenton helped create a fast start. She had seven straight NEPA Elite points early in the game, starting with a 3-pointer, for a 10-5 lead. In addition to those seven points, she also contributed five rebounds and three assists.

Castellani also had five rebounds.

NEPA Elite cruised into the 2027 Division final. It handled the HBA Spartans 2027 Girls, 44-10, in Sunday’s semifinal.

In pool play games Saturday, NEPA Elite defeated the Central Jersey Hawks, 72-13, and the Northeast Elite from New York, 52-16.

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