The event started with a light Friday evening, with some teams getting their first game in over the three time slots. Saturday was a marathon in itself, with 11 time slots spanning 8:00 AM to approximately 10:15 PM, and Sunday started early again & went into the evening. Because I had over 25 teams in my primary coverage region to try & catch over 22 time slots, this post will mainly focus on players from that region (think the 315, 518, 570, 585, 607, 716, 845, 914 area codes for the sake of this tournament).
|Kylie Lavelle, one of the 570's finest, made her presence felt with NEPA Elite.|
In case anyone's checking, these were my primary games and the ones I'm going off of for the comments below:
Electric City Surge 2021: vs. Utica Lady Knicks and Syracuse Royals 2022s
Elmira Fusion 2021: vs. Keystone Karma and Utica Lady Knicks
Elmira Fusion 2022: vs. New Hope Academy - Daley
Empire 2022: vs. I-90 Elite Pinkerton 2022
Empire 2024: vs. I-90 Elite
I-90 Elite Wright 2021: vs. NEPA Elite - Clark and NJ Belles - Fagan
I-90 Elite Pinkerton 2021: vs. Team Lady Push and Havoc Blue
I-90 Elite Pinkerton 2022: vs. NJ Shoreshots and Empire
I-90 Elite Goode 2022: vs. Team Miller and NEPA Elite
I-90 Elite 2023: vs. NY Havoc
I-90 Elite 2024: vs. Empire and NY Havoc
Keystone Karma 2021: vs. Elmira Fusion
NEPA Elite Clark: vs. I-90 Elite Wright 2021 and New Hope Academy - Caldwell
NEPA Elite Genco: vs. Team Miller
NEPA Elite Lewis: vs. Jersey Shore Rebels
NEPA Elite 2022: vs. I-90 Elite Goode
NY Havoc Blue: vs. I-90 Elite Pinkerton 2021 and Crown Lightning
NY Havoc 2023 Silver: vs. LI Lightning Flynn and I-90 Elite
NY Havoc 2024 Silver: vs. I-90 Elite
Syracuse Royals 2021: vs. Team Miller
Syracuse Royals 2022: vs. PV Thunder and Electric City Surge
Syracuse Royals 2024: vs. Mid-Atlantic Magic
Utica Lady Knicks 2021: vs. Electric City Surge and Elmira Fusion
Some players that caught my eye with their play at the Nook:
Jalea Abrams (5'8" PG, Elmira 2023; Elmira Fusion) - Jalea, already a well-known player in the Southern Tier, put her game on display in a 4-0 weekend for the Fusion. In the one I saw, a blowout W, she fueled her team's transition O with both her scoring ability & court vision. She pushed at every opportunity. When the ball wasn't stopped, she didn't stop and looked to score. When they made an effort to stop the ball, she got it where it needed to be. She also showed the vision & ability to hit teammates early in transition with the long advance pass. In the half-court, she got room to fire and made the defense pay, hitting threes & pull-up midrange Js. Defensively, she plays more like 5'11" than her listed 5'8" with her superior length & athleticism and uses active hands to get deflections. Another good weekend for one of the 607's top up-and-comers.
Jenalyse Alarcon (5'9" WF, Troy 2021; NY Havoc) - Jenalyse is the queen of standing out by doing all the little things. She often fills a stat sheet with her contributions and makes winning plays that don't show up in the box score, and I thought she brought the tool box with her when I was able to see her Havoc squad play. She scored in different ways - around the rim off basket cuts, rolls to the rim, or offensive boards, drives from the perimeter, threes & long twos off the catch, and in transition. She battled on the glass at both ends, often grabbing rebounds out of her area or among bigger players. She showed the ability to defend multiple positions and, as usual, she played with a relentless motor and made hustle plays. In my eyes, Jenalyse is one of upstate NY's top uncommitted 2021s; whoever gets her at the next level, above all else, is getting a winner.
Meghan Andersen (6'0" WF, Our Lady of Mercy Academy 2023; LI Lightning) - Meghan previously caught my eye at the NYG Hoops event in July, and she put her assets on display once again in the one Lightning game that I caught. She's a long, fluid athlete that covers a lot of ground quickly. Her defensive impact is wide-ranging. She reads eyes well, jumps passing lanes, and turns D into transition O. She can block shots. She defends multiple positions. All in all, she's a defensive playmaker. She also showed the offensive versatility - tough in transition, deceptively quick off the dribble & can get to the rim, and also hit a three off the catch. Meghan's ceiling is very high and should have her share of D1 suitors in years to come.
|Meghan Andersen (Our Lady of Mercy Academy 2023; LI Lightning)|
Kiara Anglin (6'0" WG, Brighton 2022; Syracuse Royals) - Kiara has a high ceiling & great deal of upside, and she showed flashes of that throughout the weekend, particularly in a Saturday morning victory. She's an athletic wing that often makes the most impact on defense, which she did in this game by jumping passing lanes and turning people over. However, the shot was the star in this performance. She got hot from deep and teammates recognized it, eventually knocking down 4 in the 2nd half off the catch. This isn't the first time I've seen her get it going from the perimeter, and she becomes a can't miss upstate NY target in the 2022 class if that piece gets consistently added to her athleticism & natural tools. Kiara's another one in the Rochester area with D1 potential in the 2022 class.
Jenna Beach (5'5" G, North Pocono (PA) 2021; NEPA Elite Lewis) - I've watched Jenna several times in the last couple months and she hasn't disappointed once. This showing was no different, as she made her presence felt from the jump. The PG showed quickness off the dribble with the ability to get downhill going either direction. Over the course of the game, she showed the ability to either finish at the rim among the bigs or stretch the D with the perimeter J. She also kept her head up on drives and would hit the open teammate if she drew additional defenders.
Janay Brantley (5'10" G, Catskill 2023; NY Havoc) - I've posted numerous times on social media about Janay being as much improved over the last year as anyone that I cover, and she continued to show that meteoric rise over the weekend at Spooky Nook. I watched her Havoc team twice, and different things stuck out each game. First, it was the three-level scoring ability with a pure shooting stroke from three & midrange, an in-between game with short range floaters in her arsenal, or the ability to get all the way to the rim going either way. In the second game, her court vision in transition gave teammates layups, and she turned it up some notches on the defensive end, using her length & athleticism to keep a quick, impactful guard from getting paint touches. Janay's become one of upstate NY's finest in the 2023 class and will undoubtedly be a priority recruit for plenty of D1s in years to come.
|Janay Brantley (Catskill 2023; NY Havoc)|
Morgan Brewer (5'10" WG, Vernon-Verona-Sherrill 2021; Utica Lady Knicks) - Although ULK was on the losing end of both games that I watched, Morgan once again made it perfectly clear that she could be an impact player at the next level. Her versatile scoring ability makes her tough to defend - she can stroke it from the perimeter and get to spots off the dribble, particularly in the midrange where she can rise over the top, but she can also take smaller matchups into the post and finish around the rim or with a turnaround jumper. She showed all of that in both games. A natural wing, Morgan has to play more of a forward spot as the biggest player on her team, and she again showed willingness to mix it up and be physical with the bigs. Her ability to produce offensively in the half-court is the shining part of her game to me, though. Not nearly as many players are half-court producers as they are in transition, and every winning team needs players with that ability - she has that, and that with the versatility should make her all the more enticing to college coaches.
Meghan Casey (5'9" G, Ursuline 2022; Empire State Blue Flames) - I only got to see the Empire 2022s once, on the 2nd half of a Sunday AM back-to-back, but Meghan definitely made her presence felt despite the tired legs that many were sporting. She can play on or off the ball and packed a scoring punch that her team needed in that game. The shooting stroke is pure - she shot the perimeter J well and hit threes off the catch & using ball screens. She also showed the ability to play off the shot, going off the bounce and finishing at the rim and with a short range floater going to her left. Overall, Meghan's a skilled guard with decent size, IQ, and capability of scoring in different ways.
Shay Ciezki (5'7" PG, St. Mary's Lancaster 2022; I-90 Elite) - Shay, who continues to pile onto her list of D1 offers, was one of the best guards in the gym this weekend. Already a standout with offers from mid-majors up to Power 5s going into this year, she's continued to make strides forward in her overall development. She's dangerous off the dribble and can break the D down consistently, and she's equally adept at finishing at the rim herself or creating for others. The midrange game is consistently there, she's a knockdown perimeter shooter, on-ball D is always strong... physically, there's no holes in Shay's game. I think the biggest growth she flaunted, though, relates to the mental piece. She's a vocal presence at the PG, understands the game, reads plays before they happen, picks her spots well, and is a thermostat on the court that helps set the tone for her team. Shay's as good as they come in my coverage region in the 2022 class.
|Shay Ciezki (St. Mary's Lancaster 2022; I-90 Elite)|
Anaya Coleman (5'7" PG, Pittsford Mendon 2022; Syracuse Royals) - Anaya, a Rochester area standout that recently picked up her 1st D1 offer, is one of the most skilled PGs in upstate NY. Must-see TV with the ball in her hands, she's electric with the handle, effective at getting to her spots, and adept at creating for herself or for teammates. She has the IQ and discipline to excel in the 5v5 game, but she can dance on the defense in a 1v1 situation just as well. Anaya's value really showed up on the offensive end in their last game, a physical contest that her Royals squad didn't start well. In the matter of 90 seconds late in the 1st half, she hit a deep pull-up three, zipped a 35 foot pass to a streaking teammate, and then drove right and finished over a crowd with a floater. Three-level scoring ability, crafty finisher at the rim, tight handle, good court vision, and fun to watch - Anaya checks the boxes and showed it all over the weekend.
Jess Cook (6'2" F, Cicero-North Syracuse 2021 & Toledo commit; I-90 Elite) - It's nice for a team to have both one of the best guards and one of the best forwards in an event. Already brought up the I-90 guard... now it's Jess' turn. Already one of upstate NY's top bigs, she clearly spent the spring/summer down time working, and it shows. Her consistently high motor, activity rate, and good mobility to go with the size & strength make her a monster around the rim at both ends. She grabbed boards in & out of her area at both ends, ran the floor hard seemingly every position, finished well around the rim and scored in the post. The improved mobility allowed her to step out & guard stretch forwards on the perimeter. Jess showed, in no uncertain terms, that she's become a truly dominant force.
Alicia Goldenziel (5'10" WF, North Pocono (PA) 2021; Electric City Surge) - This event was the first time I saw Scranton-based Electric City Surge or any of its players, and Goldenziel caught my eye for them from early in the first of two games that I saw. She slid across the basketball spectrum for them, going from the post to the wing and then playing on the ball some, and she also defended that array of positions, showing her versatility. She's decently athletic, showed a good midrange game with the ability to hit the 15'-18' jumper either off the dribble or off the catch (high post against a zone). She also showed a little explosiveness, getting to the rim off the dribble a few times. Good overall showing for Alicia, who helped her team go 3-1 on the weekend.
|Alicia Goldenziel (North Pocono (PA) 2021; Electric City Surge)|
Kaia Goode (5'3" PG, Bishop Kearney 2022; I-90 Elite) - The steady, consistent presence of Kaia running the PG helped lead her I-90 squad to success in the two games I was able to watch. 5'3" stature with 6'3" court presence, you seemingly always know what to expect with her. She controlled the tempo at the PG spot and didn't let the defense speed her up or slow her down. When given room, she consistently knocked down the three off the catch with college range. When she got downhill - and she has a quick burst that allows her to get paint touches - she flashed the in-between game, hitting a couple floaters over bigs closing in. Her combination of court vision, ballhandling ability, and IQ allows her to get the ball where it needs to be - whether it's getting to the spot herself or carving space with the bounce & finding a teammate. All winning qualities, a key reason why her I-90 squad went 4-0 on the weekend.
Caitlin Gresko (5'11" F, Howell (NJ) 2021; Jersey Shore Rebels) - Since I don't cover New Jersey, I wasn't familiar with Caitlin before this summer. However, she's another player that I've been able to see a few times this summer and left impressed each time, Friday included. She really got loose in the 2nd half, taking advantage of different matchups and scoring in different ways - drive & finish from the perimeter, a corner three, transition buckets, and a tough turnaround 12' jumper - as they broke out and gained separation in an eventual win. Caitlin has a strong build and is deceptively athletic with good speed/quickness & bounce, and she has perimeter and post skill - played more of a forward here, but she definitely could play at the wing too. Overall, a very solid performance.
Kayleigh Heckel (5'7" PG, Port Chester 2024; Empire State Blue Flames) - Kayleigh, already a standout with early D1 offers including a Power 5 program, made her return to the Empire lineup in her first tournament out of the handful I've seen them at. Her presence was definitely felt in the one game I was able to catch. In a battle that was close at halftime, she got it going in the 2nd half offensively and helped spring her squad to a 55-33 victory. She showed skill & craftiness with the ball in her hands, as she was able to break defenders down off the bounce and found her way to the rim around bigs once she got in the paint. When she got room on the perimeter, she showed the range with a consistent shooting stroke. I'm looking forward to watching this group some more as Kayleigh works back into action.
Leana Heitmann (6'1" WF, CBA Syracuse 2021; I-90 Elite) - Watching Leana in the past, it was clear that she had upside, but she's turned some of that potential into reality lately while blossoming into a legitimate scholarship level prospect. At 6'1" with her frame and skill set, she translates perfectly to a college-level stretch 4, though she can also play at the wing some. Her stroke is pure from deep, and she showed the ability to knock it down with consistency either off the catch or a rhythm dribble with range stretching to 25'. The range has always been there with her though; the most noticeable improvements have been made in her ability to play off the shot and willingness to put it on the floor & attack. Time and time again, she attacked poor closeouts or open areas with the dribble, and she finished with midrange pull-ups going both right & left, a couple runners in the lane, and a few finishes at the rim. She's also more willing to mix it up physically around the rim. She's recently earned a couple D2 offers, and at this rate, I think she'll quickly develop into an impact player at the college level.
|Leana Heitmann (CBA Syracuse 2021; I-90 Elite)|
Sydney Huhtala (5'10" WG, Baldwinsville 2022; I-90 Elite) - Sydney, who's started to make more of a name for herself in the last year, flourished this weekend as a utility player that can do a bit of everything. She brings it on the defensive end and has the ability to guard multiple positions & limit high-level offensive talent with discipline and decent length & athleticism. Offensively, she showed little pieces of everything in her scoring arsenal - capable shooter off the catch if given space, some post game, short/midrange jumpers, finishes at the rim with either hand - but perhaps the gold star of her offensive production is her ability to play off the ball & move without it. She seemingly got layup after layup on cuts - not a coincidence. Syd understands how to play the game without the ball in her hands, when/where to cut, and it makes her indispensable part of a team with other good players.
Kaci Kranson (5'10" G, Holy Cross (PA) 2022; NEPA Elite Genco) - Kaci's a skilled scorer that can play on or off the ball and knows how to manufacture points in the half-court & in transition. She plays with confidence and has a scorer's mentality, and she can fill it up in different ways. When given space, she knocked down the three, and when guarded close, she was able to drop the shoulder & get downhill, particularly going right. She also did well with picking spots of when to leak out in transition in the one game that I watched, and that helped generate easy buckets for her team in an eventual runaway W. That ability plus good positional size & room to continue developing makes Kaci someone to keep an eye on.
Adrien LaMora (5'11" WF, Indian River 2022; Syracuse Royals) - Skill & toughness don't always go hand-in-hand on a basketball court, but there's a happy marriage of the two attributes in Adrien's game. She showed both sides in the two Royals games I caught, both wins. She can play at the wing, in the post, or as a stretch 4, and she showed scoring ability in all roles with a back-to-basket & face-up post game, perimeter shooting stroke, and the ability to play off the perimeter J and hit the 1-2 dribble midrange pull-up. In the first game, it started with the three, hitting three of them early, and then she took smaller matchups into the post. In the second game, which was more of a rugby scrum than a basketball game at times, she was up for all the physicality and battled around the rim. She was also a strong & physical presence on the glass throughout for them.
|Adrien LaMora (Indian River 2022; Syracuse Royals)|
Kylie Lavelle (6'1" WF, Riverside (PA) 2022; NEPA Elite Clark) - Kylie, a recent addition to this NEPA group that brings her own D1 following to the mix, has already taken the team to another level with her athleticism & versatility. She took advantage of different matchups during the two NEPA games I saw, taking guards into the post and dragging forwards out to the perimeter, either blowing by & finishing off the dribble or hitting the catch & shoot three. She also turned them up a notch in transition, using elite athleticism to get out, run, and finish at the rim. Kylie, who's already the real deal now, has tremendous upside and I think has plenty of room for potential growth.
Jackie Piddock (5'8" PG, South Jefferson 2022; NY Havoc) - Whether she's the one scoring or not, Jackie seemed to usually have an impact on the scoreboard when she played. She showcased her exceptional court vision and nearly unmatched basketball IQ at the PG spot, consistently making good reads in transition and in their half-court sets. She was able to get the ball to teammates on time & on target, and when it was time to call her own number, she made that happen as well. She got to the rim & finished going either direction and hit a couple threes when the defense played off or went under a screen. Her IQ & awareness also came through on the defensive end, as she did a good job in one particular game keeping an athletic guard from turning the corner & getting paint touches, something she had done plenty of to that point. Jackie's often playing chess when others are playing checkers, and after some time settling in, I thought she showed some of that at the Nook.
Bella Pucci (5'7" PG, Fairport 2023; I-90 Elite) - I've seen the Rochester area up-and-comer have more eye-popping performances in the past, but she made plenty of impact without the highlights in the game I watched of her 2023 team. The quick PG wasn't able to get as many paint touches as usual vs. a long & athletic Havoc defense, but she got to spots that allowed her team to run offense while keeping turnovers down, a tall task against them. On a rare occasion where she got room, she showed the stroke by banging a three in a big 2nd half moment. She crashed the glass from the guard spot and kept numerous possessions alive, grabbing a handful of offensive rebounds, and she turned defense into offense by jumping passing lanes & getting a few steals, a couple turning into layups. It was the ultimate 'little things' game for Bella, and making all the important non-standout plays made her stand out.
|Bella Pucci (Fairport 2023; I-90 Elite)|
Kaeli Romanowski (5'4" PG, Western Wayne (PA) 2022; NEPA Elite Clark) - Kaeli made her presence felt in both NEPA games that I watched on the defensive end, a calling card of hers. Her speed, quickness, and high compete level make her a fantastic on-ball defender against opposing guards, and she did well to limit elite guards in both contests. In the second game, she added an efficient offensive contribution in big 2nd half minutes, showing not only that she could put pressure on the D by getting downhill & getting to the line, but also the ability to shoot the three when given space. On a team with three backcourt players currently D1 committed or with D1 offers, Kaeli's contributions may bubble a little under the radar sometimes, but they've never been more apparent than at this event.
Amarah Streiff (5'11" WF, Bishop Ludden 2023; I-90 Elite) - The Syracuse area standout made the most of her opportunities in the one I-90 2023 game that I paid full attention to. She was efficient, scoring in double figures while not taking too many shots & really not getting that many touches, and the different ways she scored showed her development from a powerful forward into a versatile offensive weapon. She hit a couple threes off the catch, attacked the rim from the perimeter off the dribble, scored in the post, and added points on offensive rebounds. Amarah's still as strong as they come and will bang around the rim with anyone, but the development of her all-around offensive game makes her a tough matchup for most teams.
Sidney Tomasso (5'10" WG, Waverly 2021; Elmira Fusion) - Sidney's been a main breakout performer among upstate New Yorkers in 2020, and she further cemented that tag in the two Fusion games I saw here. She made major impact in both games, which were two different styles - the first a half-court grind of a 38-34 W, the following much more uptempo as they pulled away for a 66-52 victory. What Sid brought to the equation was steady - she's a difference maker at both ends. In the first game, she showed the ability to shoot off the catch & off of dribble moves along with good defensive versatility. She went off in the second game - threes off the catch including a 25 footer, attacking the rim off the dribble & finishing, turning D into transition O, getting to the line - all to the tune of 33 points. She showed her worth on the defensive end again as well, doing a good job on the opponent's best player in the 2nd half as they turned a 2 point lead into a 12 point win. All-in-all, a fluid athlete with length, skill, and toughness to compete consistently at both ends, and I think about as underrated and perhaps under the radar as they come in upstate New York.
|Sidney Tomasso (Waverly 2021; Elmira Fusion)|
Ciera Toomey (6'3" WF, Dunmore (PA) 2023; NEPA Elite Clark) - Ciera, as a 2023, is a focal point of one of the best 2021 teams in my coverage region and for good reason. She already brings just about anything you could ask for from a skill perspective - post & perimeter versatility, three-level scoring & the ability to create for others, rim protecting, rebounding, you name it - Ciera's a rare breed. She put that offensive skill set on display, taking advantage of different matchups in the two NEPA games I watched, and really showed off good footwork in the post & a refined midrange game. She did a better job inviting contact around the rim here and spent a lot of time at the line because of it. Defensively, she's already proven her value as a rim protector, but she showed that length & timing even makes her a good shot blocker against taller players. Another weekend, another great showing for arguably the top 2023 that I cover. Expect her to have her share of Power 5s in the mix in the very near future.
Hannah VanDerzee (5'9" WF, Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk 2023; NY Havoc) - Hannah's another player that stands out by doing the little things. She's a Swiss army knife on the court with her overall versatility - has the ability to guard multiple positions and will fill different roles on the offensive end. Where Hannah made her mark when I watched them was her impact in the transition game and her innate ability to play off of other players. She runs the floor hard on every possession and knows how to move without the ball, and she got several layups by excelling with those two things. At one point, she even grabbed a defensive rebound, led the break herself and finished around a defender at the rim. Hannah also showed a little post game and the ability to finish with either hand. She's starting to make her mark as a plug-and-play utility sort of player.
|Hannah VanDerzee (Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk 2023; NY Havoc)|
Jaelyn Vleer-Elliott (6'1" F, Brookfield 2021; Syracuse Royals) - Jaelyn - who's been on my radar since junior high - came out of the pandemic break looking better than ever. In the one Royals game I caught, it was a balanced effort in the books that helped them to a win, but Jae's contributions and all-around game were noticeable. She was active on the glass, particularly on the offensive end where she kept several possessions alive in the 1st half. She maintained a high level of activity at both ends throughout the game, showing an improved motor. She also showed the soft touch around the rim and post game offensively, finishing around the rim with either hand & putting in a lefty jump hook. Jaelyn, who comes from one of NY's smallest schools in Brookfield, has the potential to be an impact player at the collegiate level.
Ella Wanzer (5'10" WG, Amherst 2021 & Binghamton commit; I-90 Elite) - Lighting up the gym & hanging 28 on a very good team should probably get you on this list, right? Agreed. When Ella gets going, she's perhaps the most dangerous scorer in my coverage region, and she was firing on all cylinders in an OT battle vs. NEPA Elite. With good positional size and a lightning quick release, she was able to get the perimeter J off - and knock it down (5 treys in that game) - over a good contest. She did well playing off the shot & going off the bounce too, showing the midrange game with the pull-up jumper, in-between game with the floater - including a short range one to send the game to OT - and the ability to get all the way to the rim & finish with either hand. Whatever it was, Ella had it clicking, and she showed not only why she's such an electric player now, but how her elite scoring ability can translate to the America East in coming years.
Kennedy Westbrook (5'5" PG, Waverly 2023; Elmira Fusion) - I've seen Kennedy a handful of times over the last couple months, but she really started catching my eye when dropping from the Fusion's 2021 team down to 2022 when their old unit got back together. The quick, athletic PG has really come into her own over the last couple tournaments, and she showed more strides at this event. She's scrappy, competes at a high level, and the motor & athleticism help make her a nuisance defensively. On O, she's quick off the bounce and gets to the rim, particularly going right, and she's also proving herself as a capable perimeter shooting threat. In my eyes, her growth in the last several weeks alone has been tremendous.