Norwin boys charge back in overtime win vs. rival Penn-Trafford

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Thursday, January 4, 2018 | 12:24 AM


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Most of Wednesday night's Section 3-6A game between teams that didn't send each other Christmas cards was somewhat pedestrian. Nothing stood out.

There were plenty of fouls, some hard drives to the rim and scrums for possession as Norwin hosted rival Penn-Trafford.

But even the most unimpressive games can produce the most exciting finishes.

Norwin ramped up its play down the stretch and went to overtime with the Warriors before posting a thrilling, 66-60 victory.

Josh Ratesic scored a game-high 23 points, Gianni Rizzo added 15, Jayden Walker 11 and Jake Williams 10 for the Knights (6-4, 1-2), who outscored the Warriors, 12-6, in overtime.

“I'm out of breath, not sure what to say,” Norwin coach Lynn Washowich said. “Our kids kept battling all night.”

It was the second straight overtime game for Penn-Trafford, which lost to Franklin Regional, 75-67, on Tuesday night.

“It's just tough because we played so well at times,” Warriors guard Sean Kelly said. “We tried to get better shots as the night went on. We know we are better than we showed. It's tough to get so close on back-to-back nights like that.”

Kevin Stinelli led the Warriors with 20 points, and Kelly added 14.

Rizzo converted a three-point play, and Ratesic made a layup with 2 minutes, 52 seconds left in extra time for a 59-56 lead.

After a flagrant foul on Penn-Trafford, the Warriors stayed composed as Zach Rocco buried a deep 3 from the elbow to tie it 60-60.

Rizzo hit 1 of 2 free throws — Norwin was 19 of 35 from the line for the game — to make it 61-60.

The Warriors were called for a lane violation on a free-throw try.

Ratesic then drove to the rim, was fouled and his 3-point play with 23.8 seconds to go gave the Knights a 64-60 advantage.

Rizzo scored on a break to ice it.

“We knew we needed to get (Ratesic) some help, and we had four guys combine for 59 points,” Washowich said. “That was big for us.”

Stinelli buried a wing 3 with 55 seconds left in regulation to give the Warriors a 54-53 lead, but Walker, who sparked the Knights in the fourth, made 1 of 2 free throws to make it 54-54 with 37.2 left.

Walker is a 6-3 freshman forward.

“Jayden has very soft hands,” Washowich said. “He finished well and plays under control. We knew for us to be effective against (Norwin), we had to play a strong half-court game. We put in a few quick-hitters in the last couple days.”

Logan Liebdzinski got a hand on a late 3 by Stinelli and after the tip-block, sprinted to the other end and took a relay pass from Rizzo. But Liebdzinski drew contact and just missed a layup, and the game went to overtime.

Norwin took a 32-30 lead into halftime. The Knights led 15-7, but the Warriors came back to take a 24-23 advantage late in the second quarter on a cut-and-score by C.J. Destefano.

Three-pointers by Ratesic and Williams had Norwin back in front 32-26.

Stinelli made a floater in the lane just before the third-quarter buzzer sounded to give the Warriors a 41-39 lead.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BillBeckner.

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

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