Norwin keeps playoff hopes alive

| Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012

Norwin boys basketball coach Lynn Washowich didn't have to prepare a big speech before his team took the floor against Latrobe.

His players knew the stakes all too well.

"They all have the Internet, they all see the standings and they knew where they were at," Washowich said. "We knew we had to beat Connellsville, and we knew we had to beat Latrobe. And to add to that, they knew that we get eliminated if we don't get this one."

Norwin did what it needed to keep its playoff hopes alive, as Nicholas Idele scored 19 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to lead the Knights to a 66-59 victory over Latrobe on Tuesday in a must-win Section 1-AAAA matchup.

With the victory Norwin moved to within a game of the Wildcats with three to play.

"It's a game we had to win to get into the playoffs, and we were able to do it," Washowich said. "The thing is, they have to know that to know what's on the line, and we told them that."

Both Norwin (9-8, 5-6) and Latrobe (8-10, 6-5) have three games remaining in their section schedules, an, if they end up tied, both teams would get into the playoffs because they split the season series.

Though the Knights still need to make up a game, the Wildcats have the tougher road, as they have to play Hempfield, Kiski Area and Penn-Trafford, the three teams in front of them in the standings.

"It was a missed opportunity for us because I believe we could have secured a playoff spot," Latrobe coach Brad Wetzel said. "We missed that opportunity, and now, we've got to take a really good Kiski team into our place and do the best we can. And, hopefully, we'll have a better game in that one than we did down at their place."

Early on last night, it appeared Latrobe was ready to put the lid on the Knights season, jumping out to a 17-11 lead late in the first quarter. Ben Havrilla helped out with two of his game-high 25 points.

But Norwin was just getting started, and thanks to an 18 of 32 (56.3 percent) shooting performance in the first three quarters, got back into the game.

Midway through the second quarter, Tommy Quealy hit a pair of 3-pointers, and after a steal and a pass by Idele, he converted a layup for eight points in 51 seconds that turned a 23-18 Latrobe lead into a 26-23 Knights advantage. The Knights led, 31-27, at halftime.

Idele also scored seven points as part of a 14-4 run to open the third quarter that gave Norwin a 45-31 lead with 4:23 to play in the period.

But it was the eight points by Quealy, who finished tied with Joe Williams with 13, that kick-started the Knights' offensive surge.

"We were at a pivotal point because we were down six, and (Matthew) Stewart was in foul trouble, and we knew it could get quickly out of hand," Washowich said. "The next thing you know, you look up at the scoreboard, we're up three, and they're calling timeout, so I think that was huge."

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