Adam Bilinsky reaches milestone as Norwin eliminates Hempfield from playoffs

Friday, February 10, 2023 | 10:55 PM

Adam Bilinsky was hoping his 1,000th point would come on a dunk.

So were his family, friends and fans.

After all, clips of some of his high-rising jams have gone viral.

The slams have become his calling card.

But the senior from Norwin — they call him “Bomber” — settled for a coast-to-coast layup with about five minutes to go in the second quarter to reach the scoring milestone Friday night as the visiting Knights knocked Hempfield out of the WPIAL playoffs with a 56-47 victory in the Section 2-6A finale.

“Whatever way it happened to be was all right,” the humble, 6-foot-3 guard said. “A dunk would have been nice. … As long as we got the win and knocked them out, that was the goal coming in.”

After five offensive rebounds on the same possession proved fruitless for Hempfied, Bilinsky ripped down a defensive rebound and went the length of the court for a layup off the glass.

“I just went up and took it,” he said.

Norwin (13-8, 5-5), which recently upset No. 5 Mt. Lebanon, already had clinched a playoff spot.

Hempfield ends the season 8-14, 3-7.

Bilinsky finished with 27 points and became the first 1,000-point scorer at Norwin since Matt Palo in 2011.

“It’s great to get 1,000,” Bilinsky said. “I remember my freshman year. I remember lifting weights in the cellar with my pap.”

Palo, who had 1,269 points, went on to play at Pitt-Johnstown.

Bilinsky is headed to the same conference, the PSAC, but he will play for Mercyhurst.

It’s his all-around game that attracted colleges. His unguardable pull-up jumper, his brow-raising hops and his unselfish play.

“Adam is a great kid and a great player,” Norwin coach Lance Maha said. “He’s going to have a great career at Mercyhurst. I think he is a low-Division I kid.”

All of those traits were on display as Norwin built a 30-20 lead at halftime and held back the Spartans, who got 18 points apiece from senior Harry Sowers and sophomore Drew Gordon, who made five 3-pointers.

Bilinsky (20 ppg) and Sowers (18 ppg) are two of the top five scorers in 6A.

Junior point guard Caden Biondi did not play for Hempfield.

Bilinsky didn’t play in the teams’ first meeting, a 47-46 win that was marred by poor free-throw shooting from both teams.

He made all the difference in the rematch as Norwin earned the sweep.

“It’s his tempo,” Hempfield coach Bill Swan said of Bilinsky. “He’s never in a hurry. He is good with the ball and good without it.”

Bilinsky, who has 1,021 points, scored nine in the second quarter, including a couple of tough drives through traffic, a layup off a soft feed from senior Ryan Edwards and an and-one to make it 28-13.

Gordon converted a rare, four-point play late in the third to make it 40-31.

Sowers hit a fadeaway jumper and scored on a drive late in the third to cut the deficit to 42-35.

But Bilinsky made a floater in the lane, and senior Collin Gunzburger hit a 3-pointer before Bilinsky took one bounce down the middle and threw down a dunk to make it 51-42 with about two minutes to go.

Hempfield could only cut it to seven in the second half, the last instance at 54-47, on a late 3 from Gordon with 27.2 seconds left.

“Last year, we made the playoffs,” Bilinsky said. “Now, we want to win a playoff game.”

Maha expected another physical matchup with the Spartans.

“It’s like a WWF match with these guys,” Maha said. “There’s a lot of pushing and shoving. The kids know each other and get up for this game.”

While Norwin’s playoff push might be expected because of its volume of seniors, Hempfield’s season has to be classified as an overachievement based on what the team had returning and the low expectations.

“I tell my wife every day, I love these kids,” Swan said. “There is the loyalty of the brotherhood thing we have here, but our kids play for each other.

“I am happy for Lance. They have 13 seniors. This is the year they have built towards.”

Maha showed respect for Hempfield.

“Bill has done an unbelievable job with his program,” Maha said. “Hempfield is a scary place to play.”

Bilinsky also trumpeted Swan’s praises.

“I love coach Swan,” he said. “He’s just a great dude, the best coach I’ve played against.”

Norwin was much better at the free-throw line this time, making 11 of 15 attempts.

Hempfield, which played five straight home games to end the year, was 4 of 5 at the line.

Edwards and senior Ryan Weaver scored eight each.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at or via Twitter .

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