Norwin boys basketball team gets back to its winning ways
With its playoff hopes on the line, Norwin ended its losing streak in a major way.
The Knights nearly pitched a first-half shutout and scored the first 20 points of the game in the opening quarter on their way to a Section 1-AAAA win at home Friday night over Albert Gallatin, 54-17.
Zach Bryan and J.J. Matijevic each scored eight points to lead Norwin (9-9, 6-4), which had 11 players score in the game and kept its starters on the bench for much of the second half.
Albert Gallatin (1-19, 0-10) trailed at halftime, 31-2, and was held under 20 points for the second time this season.
The win snapped a five-game losing streak and a four-game section losing streak for Norwin, which fell from first to fourth in the section over that stretch. The Knights still control their own path to playoffs, and while the team had ways to clinch as early as Tuesday night, after this edition's deadline, its simplest path to a postseason berth is to win its regular-season finale against Penn-Trafford on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
“The win was a good boost for us, for sure,” Norwin senior Nick Idele said. “We still feel like we're a good team. We know we're a good team, and we have the heart to win.”
“We're coming off a tough five games,” Norwin coach Lynn Washowich said. “Our last win was in this gym, two weeks ago, against Connellsville. Two weeks isn't a long time, but in a season that's only 10 or 11 weeks long, it feels like an eternity.”
To change its fortunes, the Knights focused on the basics in all aspects of the game. The result was an efficient effort that put the team on the right path entering the final week of the regular season.
“We were running our play to the best of our ability and working on different defenses,” Idele said. “We spent this game focused on all the fundamentals that we need to keep working on.”
“It's tough to pick one thing out, because in that five-game streak, we were only separated by a few points each time,” Washowich said.
“The difference was three or four possessions, so we just needed to focus on the little things, like making sure we get good shots on every possession and try to get some easy buckets in transition.”
Norwin got plenty of those easy buckets in the game against Albert Gallatin, which began more than an hour early to help with the Colonials' travel from Fayette County in snowy weather.
The Knights also hit their outside shots in the early stages of the game, including two early 3-pointers by Bryan, made 11 of 18 free throws and kept Albert Gallatin off the offensive glass to limit second-chance opportunities for an already poor-shooting team.
“When we play the way we're capable of playing, we can be a very good team,” Washowich said. “We're focused on ourselves, and the good thing is, because of those wins to start the (section) season, we're still in a position to get where we want to be.”
The Knights had a busy week lined up with a road section game at Connellsville on Tuesday and a home nonsection game against Clairton on Wednesday, both after this edition's deadline.
The decisive game against P-T, which trailed Norwin by one game entering this week and a Tuesday game against Latrobe, is not the final regular-season game for the Knights. Norwin also will host a nonsection contest against Greensburg Salem on Monday at 7:30 p.m.
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.