By Tom Robinson, NEPA Elite News
EAST STROUDSBURG – Kaeli Romanowski scored a team-high 14 points in the championship game and Ciera Toomey finished in double figures in both Sunday games as the NEPA Elite Clark 17U girls team won the 17U Legacy Championship Division of the Hoop Group’s Pennsylvania Showcase at East Stroudsburg University.
Romanowski led the offense and shared the team lead of three steals in a 53-44 victory over the New York Extreme Hoops 17U HGSL team in the championship game.
Toomey scored a team-high 16 points, leading three double-figures scorers during a 62-50 semifinal victory over Lightning Flynn 2022 HGSL.
NEPA Elite, which won all five of its games in the three-day event, shot 50 percent from the floor in the semifinal victory, then went 11-for-24 (45.8 percent) while scoring 30 points in the first half of the title game.
“We definitely had to push ourselves and work to get rebounds because they were really tall,” said Romanowski, a two-time NEPABasketball.com Lackawanna League Division 2 Player of the Year from Western Wayne. “And, we had to transition and push the ball up when we had the chance.”
The transition game suits the speedy Romanowski, who had a team-high 15 steals on the weekend.
“I try to use my speed as an asset,” Romanowski said. “I try to get the steal to build momentum and push the ball up.”
NEPA Elite had 3 players score at least 13 points in the semifinal, then 4 with at least 8 points in the championship game.
“We had really good moments,” Romanowski said. “We’re still needing to improve, but this was definitely one of our better outings.”
NEPA Elite set itself up for Sunday’s title run by going 2-0 to win its pool, then adding a Saturday night quarterfinal victory.
In Sunday’s first game, Toomey (16), Lavelle (15) and Moriah Murray (13) all scored in double figures while combining to shoot 19-for-36.
Toomey, the team’s only Class of 2023 player and arguably the Pennsylvania Showcase’s most sought-after recruit, was 8-for-13 from the floor. She also had six rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots.
Lavelle and Murray are committed to play National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I basketball together at Drexel University.
Toomey and Lavelle were the team’s top scorers for the event, averaging 12 points each.
Lavelle, who plays at Riverside, was 6-for-13 in the semifinal when she also grabbed five rebounds.
Murray, Toomey’s high school teammate Dunmore, went 5-for-10, including 3-for-5 on 3-pointers. She also led the team in assists with seven and steals with three while grabbing four rebounds.
After building a 34-25 lead in the semifinal, NEPA Elite again started well in the final, running out to an 11-3 lead and never trailing.
Toomey had six points in the 11-3 start and the NEPA Elite defense forced six turnovers in the first 5½ minutes while holding the Extreme to 1-for-5 shooting.
Continuing a weekend trend for NEPA Elite, the fast start was followed by New York Extreme closing the gap before the champs took control for good.
New York Extreme rallied to force ties at 20-20 and 22-22, then Murray went to work at the end of the first half.
Murray hit one 3-pointer with 1:48 left and stepped back to drain another with 23 seconds remaining as NEPA Elite scored the last eight points for a 30-22 halftime lead. In between, Romanowski used the fastbreak off a Maria Belardi steal to convert two foul shots.
After the Extreme scored the first point of the second half on a free throw, Toomey powered her way inside for a three-point play to complete an 11-1 run to a 33-23 lead.
Romanowski’s 3-pointer with five minutes left and Lavelle’s completion of a baseline move on the left side created a pair of 16-point leads before New York scored the game’s last seven points to cut into the final margin.
The game-high scoring effort by Romanowski was produced with 4-for-8 shooting from the floor, 2-for-3 on 3-pointers and 4-for-4 from the line.
Toomey added 11 points and 5 rebounds. She was 3-for-3 from the line and Lavelle was 2-for-2 as part of a 10-for-11 (90.9 percent) performance by the team.
Lavelle had nine points while leading the team with six rebounds and three blocked shots.
Anna Scoblick finished strong around the basket, making all four of her shots inside the arc while adding eight points.
Murray had six points and three assists.
Belardi contributed four points and five rebounds while sharing the steals lead of three with Romanowski.
Scoblick is from Abington Heights and Belardi is from Scranton Prep.
15U champs: The NEPA Elite Butler 15U team also won a Pennsylvania Showcase title. https://nepasportsnation.com/butler-15u-girls-claim-championship/.
Saturday roundup: A big day for Ciera Toomey contributed to two Clark team wins. https://nepasportsnation.com/butler-15u-girls-claim-championship/.
Friday roundup: Kylie Lavelle and Olivia Smelas led the way in opening Clark win and Butler team won twice as club’s teams got a successful weekend started. https://nepasportsnation.com/roundup-clubs-teams-go-5-2-to-begin-pennsylvania-showcase/.