Norwin boys go to 3-0 with win over Baldwin

Monday, December 9, 2019 | 11:10 PM

Norwin basketball coach Buddy Valinsky couldn’t ask for a better start to the 2019-20 season.

The Knights’ first-year coach, who came from Allderdice in the offseason to replace Lynn Washowich, saw his team improve to 3-0 with a 56-48 victory over a young Baldwin team Monday at the Mike Rettger Memorial tournament at Franklin Regional.

The Knights used a 10-0 run which turned into a 14-2 run to open up a 51-35 lead with five minutes left. The Highlanders were held scoreless for nearly five minutes during Norwin’s run.

Norwin won the Mt. Pleasant tournament to start the season.

“The 3-0 start is better than a 0-3 start,” Valinsky said. “I thought we played well. That’s a very good team. They’re quick and aggressive. I thought we showed resiliency.”

During the deciding run, Nathan Petrarco had two baskets and Tyler Bilinsky, who finished with a team-high 18 points, scored six points.

“They were able to dictate the flow of the game,” Baldwin coach Eugene Wilson said. “We turned the ball over and didn’t play well enough on defense.”

Both teams are similar. There is only one senior on each roster.

Baldwin sophomore Connor Gitzen, who scored a game-high 22 points, kept the Highlanders in the game after Norwin took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Bilinsky.

The junior finished with three 3-pointers and scored 10 of his 18 points in the final quarter.

“We’re feeling each other out,” Valinsky said. “I’m still learning the players and they’re still learning out about me. They’re finding out how tough I can be. It’s a learning experience every game.”

Once Norwin got the lead, it did a good job protecting it against Baldwin’s harassing defense. The Knights did turn the ball over 16 times while forcing 15 turnovers.

Junior Nick Fleming, who finished 11 for the Knights, was the first player to score in each of the first three quarters.

“We wanted to come out and put pressure on them,” Wilson said. “But we got complacent and they did a great job taking advantage of it. We didn’t talk on defense at all and that killed us.”

Baldwin (1-2) did put together a run late to close the Norwin lead to 54-48 with pressure defense, which created turnovers, which pleased Wilson.

Valinsky said he felt his team showed patience and was able to finish.

The teams will tangle later this season at Baldwin and Wilson is already looking forward to the rematch.

The teams conclude the tournament on Tuesday as Norwin tangles with Monessen at 6, followed by Baldwin and Franklin Regional at 7:30 p.m.

Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Paul by email at or via Twitter .

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