PHOTO: Leila Hurley handles the ball for the NEPA Elite Clark 17U girls team in its semifinal game with GTS Fusion GUAA. (Tom Robinson Photo)
By Tom Robinson, NEPA Elite News
MANHEIM – The NEPA Elite Clark 17U girls team put together one last comeback Sunday before falling short in the title game and placing second out of 32 teams in the 2022 Division Platinum Championship Bracket at The Prime Event East, a Select Basketball Events tournament at Spooky Nook Sports.
NEPA Elite won four straight games to get to the final. The first two of those wins came Saturday and featured rallies from double figures deficits.
The tournament continued Sunday with two more wins by NEPA Elite before the team got in an early 18-point hole against Team Takeover EYBL from New York.
NEPA Elite rallied to lead briefly in the final four minutes, then had the game’s final shot in a 47-44 loss in an attempt to force overtime.
A recap of Sunday’s three games:
NEPA Elite Clark 17U 61, New Jersey Sparks Hines-Allen EYBL 55
Ciera Toomey continued her accurate shooting while scoring 26 points in the morning quarterfinal game.
Toomey was 9-for-11 from the floor, missing her only 3-point attempt, and went 8-for-9 from the line. She also led the team with seven rebounds, dished out four assists and blocked two shots.
In Saturday’s first two rounds, Toomey shot a combined 15-for-20.
Moriah Murray added 16 points, 5 rebounds and a team-high 5 assists.
Kylie Lavelle made both her 3-point attempts while adding 10 points.
Anna Scoblick chipped in with six points and three rebounds while Olivia Smelas grabbed six rebounds.
NEPA Elite built a 37-29 halftime lead.
New Jersey rallied to force a tie midway through the second half before NEPA Elite regained control with a 13-5 run to a 59-51 lead.
NEPA Elite Clark 57, GTS Fusion GUAA 51
The Dunmore combination of Toomey and Murray continued to lead the way in the semifinal victory.
Toomey scored 22 points to go along with 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Murray added 16 points and game-highs of 7 rebounds and 7 assists.
After Toomey led a fast start, Murray helped turn back a GTS Fusion comeback.
The only GTS lead came at 2-0 before Toomey scored the next four points.
Lavelle and Toomey each hit 3-pointers to break the game’s only two ties.
Toomey did not miss a shot while scoring 16 points in the first 10 minutes – going 5-for-5 from the floor, including two 3-point attempts, and making four free throws.
When she opened the second-half scoring by making her next shot as well, Toomey improved to 30-for-37 (81.1 percent) for a little more than 3½ games to begin the tournament.
GTS answered that basket with a 7-2 run to get within 38-35.
Murray then hit three straight 3-pointers, all from well beyond the arc, in a span of 2:15 to push the lead into double figures.
Smelas had five rebounds while Maria Belardi and Lavelle had four each to join Murray and Toomey in leading the team’s 34-26 advantage on the boards.
Scoblick, who had three assists, and Kaeli Romanowski had two steals each.
Team Takeover EYBL 47, NEPA Elite Clark 44
Team Takeover opened an 18-point lead in the first half and a pair of 13-point leads in the second half before Murray and Romanowski led NEPA Elite back.
NEPA Elite led for just 15 seconds in the entire game.
Romanowski bounced an entry pass to get the ball in to Lavelle one-on-one on the low block on the right side.
Lavelle finished with a strong post move for a 42-41 lead with 3:35 remaining, but Team Takeover answered on the next possession.
NEPA Elite went back to playing from behind the rest of the way.
Team Takeover had a 47-42 lead with possession as the game entered the final minute.
Smelas made a steal, leading to a Murray basket to make it a three-point game.
After Team Takeover missed two free throws with 30.9 seconds left, coach Kevin Clark called timeout with 24.2 seconds remaining.
Team Takeover defended well the rest of the way, limiting NEPA Elite to a long, difficult, 3-point attempt at the final buzzer. Murray hit the rim with that shot at the tie as the game, and tournament, ended.
Murray finished with 14 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists to lead the team’s most balanced scoring game of the weekend.
Romanowski added seven points while Toomey, Lavelle and Scoblick had six each.
NEPA Elite also got rebounding from many sources.
Toomey had a game-high nine rebounds, Lavelle joined Murray with five while Trinity Johnson and Romanowski had four each. That created a 40-33 rebounding advantage.
Limiting Team Takeover to one shot – allowing just three offensive rebounds in the second half while it was shooting 6-for-19 (31.6 percent) – was a big part of the comeback.
Romanowski had three assists, Lavelle had two steals and Belardi and Toomey had two blocked shots each.
The comeback attempt was built in different stages after Team Takeover scored the game’s first eight points on the way to a 26-8 lead.
Murray hit a 3-pointer. Scoblick then made a steal, completing the play while saving the ball as she headed into the scorer’s table, sending it to Murray, who fed Johnson for a jumper from the elbow.
NEPA Elite was out and running again with Hurley hitting one of two free throws to complete a six-point streak to start a 12-5 advantage over the final 6:02 to get within 31-20 at halftime.
Team Takeover led 35-22 with 12 minutes left before Murray and Romanowski set each other up for baskets.
Murray added a 3-pointer for complete to make it seven straight points and a 35-29 game.
After a Team Takeover 3-pointer from the corner, NEPA Elite added eight more points in a run for a 15-3 run to 38-37.
NEPA Elite attacked the basket for those eight points with a Toomey inside move followed by drives from Romanowski, Scoblick and Murray.
Toomey’s 3-pointer from the right corner matched a Team Takeover three-point play and made the deficit one again, leading to Lavelle’s go-ahead basket.
Like Murray and Toomey, Smelas and Hurley are also teammates during the high school season. They play at Jim Thorpe.
Lavelle is from Riverside, Romanowski from Western Wayne, Scoblick from Abington Heights, Belardi from Scranton Prep and Johnson from Wyoming Valley West.
Sunday roundup: Coverage of the club’s other teams in their Sunday games. https://nepasportsnation.com/roundup-rini-team-places-third/.
Saturday: Coverage of all the club’s teams in Saturday’s games. https://nepasportsnation.com/nepa-elite-comebacks-wipe-out-four-double-figures-deficits/.