Ben Chilson hit two free throws with four seconds remaining Friday to help the NEPA Elite Coyle 17U boys open the Hoop Group Jersey Shore Jam Fest in Atlantic City with a 66-63 victory over District Basketball Club-HGSL.
NEPA Elite came from behind in the final minute with the help of a game-tying 3-pointer by Matt Prociak.
The event is expected to be the season finale for the Coyle team, the last boys team still in action from the AAU club out of Riverfront Sports in Scranton.
The win over the opponent from Washington, D.C. sent NEPA Elite into the Round of 16 Saturday at 11:40 a.m. against Jersey Force-HGSL at the Convention Center.
“We are peaking at the right time both defensively and offensively,” coach Brian Coyle said. “It’s been fun to coach and really fun to watch.
“College coaches are definitely taking notice.”
The extra event was added to the team’s schedule after the National Collegiate Athletic Association relieved pandemic-related restrictions and turned July into a “Live Period” for in-person recruiting by Division I coaches.
Complete statistics were unavailable, but Coyle pointed out some of the efforts needed to get past what he described as “a very talented” opponent.
“Justice Shoats controlled the tempo of the game from start to finish,” Coyle said. “Jason Shields continued his sharp shooting on the offensive end, especially down the stretch when it counted.
“Matt Prociak had at least 15-plus rebounds.”
Prociak and Shoats are also high school teammates at Holy Redeemer. Chilson is from Tunkhannock and Shields is from Scranton.