By Tom Robinson, NEPA Elite News
SCRANTON – The NEPA Elite Clark 17U girls team opened play in The Ladies Ball regional at Riverfront Sports by setting team records for most points in a game and largest margin of victory.
Three NEPA Elite players scored in double figures, three came up with at least five steals and the team hit half its 3-point attempts while running over the Pumas from the Playmaker Academy in Hopewell Junction, N.Y., 86-39, Saturday morning.
Kylie Lavelle, a Drexel University commit from Riverside, was 3-for-5 on 3-pointers while scoring 17 points, grabbing 5 rebounds and making 5 steals.
Dunmore’s Ciera Toomey, one of the nation’s most sought-after prospects in the Class of 2023, was 3-for-4 on 3s while finishing with 16 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
Kaeli Romanowski from Western Wayne was 3-for-5 on 3-pointers to add 13 points and 5 steals.
Maria Belardi from Scranton Prep added eight points, five steals, five rebounds and four assists.
Nine players scored at least five points and Moriah Murray, a Drexel commit from Dunmore who played only briefly, added three.
Olivia Smelas, a Kutztown University commit from Jim Thorpe, had six points, a team-high six rebounds and three assists. Smelas grabbed five of her rebounds on the offensive end.
The Pumas led just once, then NEPA Elite scored 21 straight points for a 24-5 lead. Toomey had eight points, Lavelle six and Belardi five in the streak.
NEPA Elite forced 12 turnovers in the first 8:11 with the help of two steals each by Romanowski, Belardi, Toomey and Lavelle.
After making 7 of 12 shots from 3-point range to close out the first half with a 48-22 lead, NEPA Elite hit its first five of the second half to complete a 25-minute stretch in which it shot better than 70 percent from beyond the arc to open a 73-31 lead with 11:10 remaining.
The NEPA Elite Clark 17U team is 53-12 in its 14-month history. The 86 points set a team record, topping an 85-58 win over Pro Skills from Texas in May in the Hoop Group Southern Jam Fest in Hampton, Va. The 47-point win tops a 78-33 victory over Elmira Fusion, also at home at Riverfront during the Summer Showdown in August, 2020.
NEPA Elite also has teams entered in the 2025 and 2027 Divisions.
In the 2027 Division, NEPA Elite won 72-13 over the Central Jersey Hawks and 52-16 over Northeast Elite.
The 2025 Division team lost twice — 60-24 to South Jersey Lady Starz Lime and 43-41 to Lightning Connolly.
The regional event concludes Sunday. Division winners will be eligible to compete at The Ladies Ball in Knoxville, Tenn. next month.