Scoring struggles hampered Norwin boys in 2nd half of season
It has seemed like two very different seasons for the Norwin boys basketball team this year.
The Knights jumped out to a solid start with a 6-2 record. Norwin was scoring more than 65 points per game. But since that opening stretch, the Knights have went 2-9. The team’s scoring averaged dipped to 47.5 points per game during the 11-game stretch.
“We are obviously extremely disappointed,” Norwin coach Lynn Washowich said. “We were 6-2 and 1-0 in the section after a big win at Hempfield. We were feeling good. But we hit the Christmas break, and we lost our offensive momentum.”
The team’s decline in scoring was noticeable the second half of the season. The team lost five games by less than 10 points. These losses include a 45-41 loss to Hempfield, a 59-56 setback against Connellsville and a 59-57 loss to Latrobe.
“We weren’t scoring like we were able to in the first eight games of the year,” Washowich said. “We were in some close games, but we couldn’t put the ball in the hoop.
“Teams started to defend us differently. They saw how much we were scoring and were able to take away some of our scoring.”
The two-point loss to Latrobe showed the progress of the team. The Knights fell to the Wildcats, 80-51, earlier in the season. Norwin went toe-to-toe with the Section 3-6A champs Feb. 4, but a four-point third quarter allowed Latrobe to escape with a win.
“In the first game, their pressure was too much,” Washowich said. “We had trouble getting the ball inbounds and across half court. We couldn’t get good looks. But in the second game, we learned from those mistakes. We were able to come down and get the shots we wanted.”
The team’s defense has been steady throughout the season, holding teams to 55.4 points per game.
Washowich credits the team’s continued focus on its three seniors. Gianni Rizzo, Owen Sabol and Logan Liebdzinski motivated the Knights to continue to fight throughout the season.
“They are leaders,” Washowich said. “They play hard. They realize things haven’t gone our way. But they have gone out and competed. When we played Latrobe the second time, we were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. But they refused to quit.”
While the team will lose the three veterans, the future could be bright for Norwin. The Knights will return several key parts of the team next season. That includes a strong trio of sophomores in Nicholas Fleming, Jayden Walker and Tyler Bilinsky.
“They scored 37 of our 47 points against Penn-Trafford (on Feb. 5),” Washowich said. “There was a transition for them. In Class 6A, everyone is bigger and strong and more athletic. We will rely on them in the future.”
Nathan Smith is a freelance writer.