No. 3 Hempfield beats Norwin for 11th straight win
Hempfield basketball coach Mark Marino told his team to expect a dogfight Friday at Norwin.
The No. 3-ranked Spartans (12-1, 7-0) got one.
Hempfield survived a tough first half and rallied to defeat the red-hot Knights, 63-50, in a Section 1-AAAA battle.
Norwin (9-6, 3-4) was riding a seven-game winning streak. The Spartans now have won 11 straight.
Hempfield opened the second half with a 10-2 run to build a 38-34 lead and erase a 32-28 halftime deficit.
Kason Harrell, who led Hempfield with 20 points, scored six points during the run and ended up with 10 points in the third quarter as the Spartans outscored the Knights, 18-7, to take a 46-39 lead heading into the fourth.
“We're going to get everyone's best effort,” Marino said. “We got the ball inside with Kason and Tony (Pilato) in the second half. We always want to try and run.
“Norwin did a good job in the first half against Kason. We adjusted our offense in the second half.”
Hempfield took control of the game at both ends of the floor in the second half. The Spartans did a better job defending Norwin shooting guards Zach Bryan, Curtis Perz and Steve Socrates. In the paint, Pilato, Logan Swan, Ty George, Jay Flock and Marc Demilio made it tough for the Knights to get second-chance opportunities.
“We took more bad shots in the first four minutes of the second half than we did the entire first half,” Norwin coach Lynn Washowich said. “It was a role reversal of halves. We showed a lot of patience on offense in the first half and made Hempfield play defense. They did a better job attacking the offensive boards in the second half.
“We had a great first half. We didn't do that in the second half. They started making shots, and Kason made plays. He's a great player.”
It was a different story in the first half. Socrates, who scored 20 points, came off the bench to hit his first five 3-point attempts, and Norwin's offense showed patience. The Knights lacked patience in the second half.
“Steve had a great night,” Washowich said. “He stepped up for us.”
Socrates scored 14 points in the first half as Norwin opened up a 27-20 lead.
“We lost him a couple times on defense,” Hempfield senior guard Nolan Beresford said. “We did a much better job in the second half.”
Marino added: “The scouting report on Socrates was: If he makes his first 3, he's hitting his next five. We did leave him open a couple times.”
The Spartans saw their lead cut to 48-44 on a Socrates 3-pointer with 4:50 left, but Pilato hit a layup and foul shot, and Harrell made a layup to push the advantage back to 53-44.
Harrell's bucket moved him over the 1,000-point mark for his career. Pilato finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
After that, Hempfield finished Norwin by going 10 for 11 from the foul line down the stretch.
Bryan scored 10 points for Norwin.