Defense fuels Norwin boys past Uniontown in tournament final

Saturday, December 3, 2022 | 7:07 PM

Norwin is trying to develop a defensive identity early in the season.

The fact that said development has come with two wins in two games is a bonus that second-year coach Lance Maha will gladly take.

“We want to be a good halfcourt defensive team,” Maha said. “When we share the ball and get three guys in double figures, good things can happen.”

With the defense doing its part in slowing down Uniontown, the offense found its rhythm and the Knights put away the Red Raiders, 55-47, to win their inaugural boys basketball tip-off tournament Saturday in North Huntingdon.

Adam Bilinsky scored a game-high 24 points — a night after he went for 30 against Jeannette — while Ryan Edwards netted 16 and Justin Weaver had 12 to propel the Knights (2-0).

“This was a great way to start out,” Bilinsky said. “It’s good to beat a tough team like Uniontown.”

Edwards added six rebounds and six assists.

Bilinsky was named MVP of the event and joined Weaver on the all-tournament team.

Norwin built the lead to 38-27 early in the third on a jumper by Bilinsky, but the Red Raiders (1-1) scored eight straight, including a 3 from Jamere Braxton to make it 38-35.

Edwards, though, made two 3s in a row and nailed a soft jumper from the corner for a 45-40 lead early in the fourth.

“Ryan stepped up and hit some big shots. He carried us a little there,” Maha said.

A putback by Bilinsky stretched the margin to 48-40 with 4:26 to play.

“We did a better job against (Notorious) Grooms and (Calvin Winfrey) in the second half,” Bilinsky said. “We helped on defense to find those two guys.”

Norwin could have pulled away even more but made just 8 of 16 free throws in the fourth.

“We don’t want to play slow on offense,” Maha said. “We had too many live-ball turnovers early. We wanted to make (Uniontown) earn everything on the defensive end. We wanted to make them have to shoot over us.”

The Knights got the fast start they wanted.

Bilinsky made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from just over halfcourt to end the first quarter and give the Knights a 20-15 lead.

Uniontown took a 26-24 lead with 2:52 to play in the second quarter, but the Knights ran off nine straight points, with Weaver scoring on back-to-back drives and Bilinsky finishing a one-on-one drive and then hitting a pull-up jumper, to put Norwin ahead 32-26.

His three-point play just before the half put the Knights up 36-27.

Grooms had 12 points, and Braxton added 11 for the Red Raiders, who play in Class 4A.

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

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