By Tom Robinson, NEPA Elite News
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – The NEPA Elite Rini 17U team proved it could win two different styles of games Sunday, making it through two more rounds to reach the semifinals of the 17U Gold Championship bracket of the Hoop Group Season Championships.
NEPA Elite repeated its efficient offensive performance from Saturday’s first round, then won a defensive slugfest in the quarterfinals.
Chase Purdy led the way through both.
Purdy scored 25 points while combining with Lake-Lehman High School teammate Claire Dougherty for more than 60 percent of the team’s offense in a 67-62 victory over the Rhode Island Basketball Club.
Then, Purdy’s seven points were the team-high when a balanced attack helped the team through a 39-32 quarterfinal battle with PD Hoops.
Dougherty went 5-for-5 to start, then Purdy made her last six shots to finish the win over Rhode Island.
Each had a 3-pointer during her streak.
Purdy had 15 of her 25 points over the game’s final 12 minutes to rally NEPA Elite after it fell behind early in the second half. She got to the offensive glass for five of her nine rebounds.
Dougherty scored 11 of her 16 points in the game’s first 11:40. She had seven of her eight rebounds on the offensive end.
The offensive rebounding of Purdy and Dougherty led NEPA Elite to a 33-22 advantage on the boards.
NEPA Elite started the game 4-for-5 on 3s and 7-for-10 from the floor overall, culminating in an 11-0 run to the first half’s biggest lead, 20-11, less than 5½ minutes into the game.
Purdy hit a long 3-pointer, Dougherty connected from the right corner, then Mia Blume hit twice from up top for four straight 3s and a 12-0 run in a span of 1:29 for the nine-point advantage.
The game featured six lead changes and seven ties.
The last lead change came on Purdy’s baseline drive with 10:30 left in the middle of a 13-2 run in which she scored eight points to help NEPA Elite to a 53-46 lead.
Purdy and Dougherty each hit 3-pointers, then Dougherty fed Purdy for a layup off an in-bounds pass for eight straight points and the biggest lead of the game, 63-51.
Megan Desmet had seven points and two steals in the game while Kallie Booth had five assists.
While NEPA Elite was winning its first two games by scoring at least 60 points, PD Hoops got through those rounds by scoring 42 points in each.
PD Hoops dictated the lower-scoring game with a high turnover count, but NEPA Elite was able to advance despite coughing the ball up 20 times.
Purdy had seven points, Blume had five, six teammates scored four each and another had three.
Blume also led the team with six rebounds while sharing the lead of three assists.
Desmet had four points, three assists and five steals.
NEPA Elite closed the first half with an 11-3 lead and a game-high lead of 27-15.
Blume is from Dunmore, Desmet from Wallenpaupack and Booth from Pittston Area.
NEPA Elite plays its final two games Monday, starting with a 9 a.m. semifinal against New Jersey Belles-Truhan.