For Hempfield, a finishing kick
It was a case of one team finishing the job and the other not.
No. 5 Hempfield used a strong second half to pull away for a hard-fought, 58-49 victory against No. 10 Norwin at home Friday in the Section 1-AAAA opener for both teams.
The Spartans (2-1, 1-0) outscored the Knights, 35-24, in the second half, including 20-13 in the crucial fourth quarter.
“It was simple: They made their shots in the fourth quarter, and we didn't,” Norwin coach Lynn Washowich said. “We played the same way against Franklin Regional (on Wednesday), and if finish, we beat both teams.
“We missed a couple layups and a couple short jumpers, and they didn't miss from the line.”
Hempfield was 16 for 16 from the free throw line, including 12 for 12 in the fourth quarter.
First-year Hempfield coach Mark Marino learned quickly that nothing is easy in Section 1-AAAA.
He said getting the ball to Tony Pilato in the second half and capitalizing on Norwin's different defenses on Kason Harrell benefited them.
“We were able to get Tony more touches around the rim,” Marino said. “And we got some easy buckets when they tried to take away Kason.
“It was a team effort. Mike (Nauman) did a good job on Zach Bryan, their point guard. And I think you could tell Mike wore him down in the fourth quarter.”
Harrell led Hempfield with 19 points and eight rebounds. Pilato finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Nauman had 13 points and five assists.
It was Harrell's bucket late in the third quarter that gave Hempfield the lead for good, 33-32. Pilato added two free throws, and Logan Hunter hit a 3-pointer for a 38-36 lead after three quarters.
Hempfield outscored Norwin, 8-2, to start the fourth quarter and grab a 46-38 lead.
Norwin (2-3, 0-1) got to within 48-45 on a 3-pointer by Steve Socrates, but the Spartans put the game away at the foul line.
“Norwin brought it,” Marino said. “We emphasized getting on their shooters. Kason took it personally in guarding their best shooter. We did a nice job closing out the game.”
Curtis Perz, Norwin's leading scorer, was held to eight points. Alexander Haas led the Knights with 12.
Harrell said Norwin played well, but his team was able to do the little things better in the second half.
“We played good defense and got the 50/50 balls better in the second half,” Harrell said. “We wanted this win after falling to Greensburg Central Catholic in our last game.”
Norwin used a 17-14 advantage in the second quarter to grab a 25-23 lead at halftime.
Harrell was held scoreless for the first 12 minutes of the game, and the Norwin student section was letting him know about it.