Fleming feels it from 3-point range as Norwin beats Penn-Trafford

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Tuesday, January 19, 2021 | 9:42 PM


Where’s Waldo?

That’s the question Penn-Trafford was asking as Michael Fleming worked his way around the 3-point line, popping out for long-range shots and making the Warriors pay.

Fleming, nicknamed “Waldo,” was feeling it from his first touch Tuesday night, so the Norwin junior guard’s teammates kept kicking the ball out to him. He thrived from behind the arc and put together a career night to lift the Knights to their second straight victory.

Fleming scored 24 of his 27 points in the second half and made 5 of 7 3-pointers as visiting Norwin downed rival Penn-Trafford, 66-59, in a Section 3-6A game.

“I felt good tonight,” said Fleming whose previous high for points was 13 last Saturday. “I shot well that game (Saturday), and it carried over. I didn’t even realize I had 27.”

Norwin (3-2, 1-2) came back from 10 down in the second quarter, regaining the lead early in the third and pushing back the Warriors (3-2, 1-2) before building a double-digit lead in the second half.

“Michael has really been working hard,” Norwin coach Buddy Valinsky said. “He has the green light.”

Junior Kaleb Pryor, a transfer from Gateway, added 13 points for Norwin, which hit a season-best six 3-pointers.

As for his nickname, Fleming said it stems from youth baseball.

“Whenever I was little at my brother’s baseball tournament, I started to appear in all the pictures,” he said. “Our team’s pictures and even other teams pictures —- I was always in the background. One parent said, ‘Hey, look, it’s Where’s Waldo.’ It stuck ever since.”

The Warriors rallied late after falling behind by 10, with Nathan Crum hitting two of the Warriors’ nine 3s.

Nick Crum had four of them and finished with 14 points, while Josh Kapcin led the Warriors with 18 — 11 in the second half.

After Kapcin cut it to 52-49 with a 3, Norwin used an 8-1 run to make it 60-50. Fleming made 8 of 8 free throws in the fourth to help the Knights stay in front.

“We have a nice team and a lot of guys are doing good things for us,” Valinsky said. “I can see it in their eyes. They have more of a winning attitude this year.”

Penn-Trafford is getting used to close games. Two of the Warriors’ wins were by three and two points. They also have a two-point loss.

“We didn’t put anything together tonight,” Penn-Trafford coach Doug Kelly said. “We helped on defense, but maybe we helped too much at times and Norwin made the passes. Nothing but credit to (Fleming).

“There really is a fine line between winning and losing.”

Norwin has been looking for continuity with absences in the lineup and Valinsky missing the previous two games for an undisclosed reason.

Valinsky returned to help guide Norwin to a win over Berlin Brothersvalley on Saturday.

Ty Bilinsky saw his first game action of the season for Norwin. He has been dealing with health issues, including a high ankle sprain from football.

“It was good to get Ty back,” Valinsky said. “Having him on the floor changes some things (Penn-Trafford) does.”

Josh Willilams did not play for the Knights. He has yet to appear in a game this season.

Fleming had himself a big third quarter to spark the Knights, scoring 13 of his 16 points, including 10 in a row, as Norwin took a 43-40 advantage to the fourth. He scored 11 in the fourth.

Kapcin scored eight in the third for the Warriors.

Penn-Trafford built a 10-point lead in the second quarter (25-15) on consecutive 3s from Nick Crum. An 8-0 run to open the second was silenced by an 11-0 surge from the Knights to put them on top, 26-25.

Chase Vecchio missed a free throw but ended up with the rebound and sneaked in the putback to beat the halftime buzzer and give the Warriors a 27-26 lead — their last lead of the night.

“That’s two games in a row where we allowed a high percentage from 3 and from the foul line,” Kelly said. We have a tough group. We have yet to play our best basketball.”

The 3-ball has been an important cog in the Warriors’ attack.

Crum made three 3s in the first half. Norwin made one.

Crum, Kapcin and Jarred Schoffstall all hit 3s in the opening quarter to stale the Warriors to a 17-15 edge.

Wright, who was shooting 3s after the game ended and the gym emptied, finished with nine points.

Adam Bilinsky and Walker each had nine for Norwin.

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

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