Hempfield boys attack basket, handle Norwin

Friday, January 29, 2021 | 10:23 PM

Joe Fiedor is that player in practice who never slows down. A constant ball of energy.

“I like to play fast and go to the paint,” the Hempfield junior guard said. “I am always going.”

A 6-foot guard, Fiedor spent much of the night slashing through the lane and attacking the basket, and his teammates followed his lead.

Playing with a quiet confidence that has them in the conversation in Class 6A, the Spartans boys basketball team had plenty of drive in its latest win Friday night. The aggressive approach propelled fifth-ranked Hempfield to a 49-34 victory over visiting Norwin on Friday and a Section 3-6A sweep of the Knights.

Hempfield edged Norwin last Friday, 51-50.

With offensive execution often punctuated by backdoor cuts and layups, Hempfield (5-2, 4-1) maintained a double-digit lead from late third quarter on to post the senior night win and move a half-game ahead of Fox Chapel for first place.

“We play off each other,” said Fiedor, who comes from an athletic family. “We read each other and have a rhythm with each other. I think we took too many 3s last game, and we needed to drive more.”

Fiedor had a game-high 14 points and led another balanced scoring night for the Spartans, who did not allow Norwin (4-4, 1-4) to produce a double-figure scorer.

Senior Mike Hosni added 10 points, and senior Mario Perkins, who got the start and made his presence felt, added nine.

Junior Sean Gordon hit two 3-pointers and scored eight.

“We all trust each other, and that creates a smooth flow in the game,” Perkins said. “None of us are selfish, and we all know our roles.”

Hempfield, coming off a 71-68 overtime win over former section opponent Latrobe, once again used crisp ball movement to take a double-digit lead into halftime.

A team that has been used to grinding out victories earned some separation against the Knights to avoid another nail-biter.

“There’s an old saying that layups are great,” Hempfield coach Bill Swan said. “I was glad to see us get to the rim. I’m comfortable with our offense. I mean, we still have a lot to learn, but it’s great to be able to play. And our defense has been the key to our success.”

Norwin had only three field goals in the second quarter and trailed by 14 at the half.

“There was no energy again,” Knights coach Buddy Valinsky said. “It’s the same exact story as last Friday. We have to find some energy.”

An 8-2 run to open the second quarter, sparked by 3s from Gordon and Perkins, pushed the lead to 20-8.

Norwin tried to run offensive sets but could not get quality looks as Hempfield’s movement created uncontested scores.

Senior Christian Zilli, Hosni and Fiedor scored on drives to make it 26-10.

Norwin opened the third with six straight points to cut it to 26-18, but Hosni hit a 3 and made a layup to push it the lead to 31-20.

Gordon added a 3, and Perkins’ layup made it 38-23.

In the fourth, Hempfield used a 9-2 spurt to push the margin to 20, 47-27.

A mild 7-0 run by Norwin did little to close the gap.

Hempfield again limited Norwin’s post players. Seniors Nick Fleming and Jayden Walker combined for 14 points, with Fleming scoring eight.

Hempfield 6-3 senior Niheim Lewis helped to front the 6-4 Walker.

Swan also singled out junior Dom Hipps for his all-around play.

“Just a tough kid,” Swan said.

Four Knights finished with six points. The team did not make a 3-pointer.

Perhaps Norwin’s collective mind was elsewhere.

Norwin, which had won two of its last three coming in, wore T-shirts with the phrase “#TyStrong” in warmups to honor senior teammate Ty Bilinsky, who had a stroke earlier this year and is dealing with some other health-related issues that could cost him the rest of the season.

The shirts had Bilinsky’s No. 5 on the back.

“We miss having him out there,” Valinsky said.

Bilinsky did not play in the game but sat with his teammates on spaced-out chairs on the sideline.

“All prayers for Ty,” Perkins said. “It puts a lot in perspective. He is a great competitor.”

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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