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Norwin boys look to contend in new-look Section 3-6A

Paul Schofield
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Norwin’s Gianni Rizzo jumps for a layup shot on net during a team scrimmage match at boys’ basketball practice on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018 at Norwin Senior High School.
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Norwin head coach Lynn Washowich works with his players during drills at boys’ basketball practice on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018 at Norwin Senior High School.

Missing the WPIAL postseason is rare for the Norwin boys basketball team. Missing out the past two seasons has the team working hard to end that little drought.

Norwin coach Lynn Washowich not only wants his team back in the playoffs, he wants them to strive to be section champions.

Norwin struggled the past two seasons in a tough Section 3-6A that included Latrobe, Penn Hills, Woodland Hills, Fox Chapel, Penn-Trafford and Hempfield.

But the WPIAL basketball committee made changes that could benefit the Knights for the next two seasons.

They are in a new-look section. Penn Hills and Woodland Hills dropped to Class 5A, leaving the Knights to compete against Fox Chapel, Latrobe, Penn-Trafford, Hempfield and Connellsville in Section 3-6A.

“I would think Fox Chapel and Latrobe are the top teams, leaving the four other teams to compete for the other two playoff berths,” Washowich said. “The best thing about the past two seasons was the level of competition we faced.

“I don’t care who we played, there were no nights off. You couldn’t compete if you gave an 85 percent effort.”

Washowich is set on six players who will see the bulk of the playing time. The returning starters are forwards Jayden Walker, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, and Gianni Rizzo, a 6-2 senior.

Walker averaged 12 points per game as a freshman and Rizzo 8.

The other returnees are senior guards Logan Liebdzinski and Owen Sabol, sophomore point guard Ty Bilinsky and sophomore forward Nick Fleming.

“We are six strong,” Washowich said. “They will do good things, but they are still learning.

“The big question is who will be our seventh and eighth players. We have three players battling for those spots.”

That trio includes junior guard Tanner Queen and sophomore guards Connor McCutcheon and J.C. Govanucci.

Washowich said even though Bilinsky is a sophomore, he expects big things from him.

“He is very skilled; that’s why we have him running the point,” Washowich said. “Ty gets the ball to the right person and is a good shooter. He’s great at keeping us balanced.

“With Jayden and Gianni, we’ll have a good post presence. Tanner is a very skilled athlete.”

As Washowich watched practice, he talked about his teams’ strengths.

“We’ll be able to adapt to different situations,” Washowich said. “We’ll have a lot of flexibility and get the best matchups as possible.”

After only winning eight games in 2016-17, the Knights improved to 11-11 in 2017-18 and ended the season with a win against playoff-bound McKeesport.

Washowich hopes the upswing continues this season.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at [email protected] or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.

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