Top-ranked Latrobe boys basketball makes quick work of Norwin
By: Bill Beckner Jr.
Friday, January 11, 2019 | 10:18 PM
Norwin had a one-point lead a couple of minutes into Friday night’s boys basketball game against No. 1 Latrobe.
Then the Knights made a mistake: They blinked.
Latrobe erupted for one of its 100-meter-dash surges in the opening quarter and seized control on the way to an 81-50 home victory in Section 3-6A.
Norwin (6-5, 1-3) did make a mild run at the Wildcats (11-2, 4-0), shaving a 20-point lead to nine in the third. But Latrobe wiped away any doubts of an upset by adding some support to its early cushion and then limiting Norwin to two field goals in the fourth quarter when it outscored the Knights, 20-6.
“That third quarter was more them than us,” Latrobe coach Brad Wetzel said. “Norwin has some skilled athletes, and we knew they would throw a punch at us. Fortunately, we withstood it. That start put us in the driver’s seat.”
Norwin tried to be physical with the Wildcats early, but the effectiveness of that approach was fleeting. Latrobe just countered with transition baskets and 3-pointers and turned a 9-8 deficit into a 27-10 advantage with a 21-1 run.
“Norwin switched to more of a zone, and we needed to get used to it because we weren’t expecting it,” said Latrobe senior Bryce Butler, who scored a game-high 29 points. “Our movement was good tonight, and we played together.”
Senior Reed Fenton added 15 points, including three 3-pointers for Latrobe.
Senior Trent Holler added eight points and helped as the enforcer in the paint as Norwin jockeyed for position.
A West Liberty recruit, Butler scored 12 in the first quarter and had 20 before the half as the Wildcats built a 44-27 lead.
The Knights, who dropped their third straight game, would not go away in the third. They scored 11 of the first 18 points in the period to trim the margin to 49-40.
Logan Liebdzinski made a pair of baskets during the run, but Latrobe gradually regained its footing as Butler scored inside and Fenton, a Lehigh commit, nailed a 3-pointer to make it 55-41 with 2 minutes, 31 seconds left in the quarter.
Norwin switched a man-to-man defense later.
“I thought we battled back and played our man defense well,” Norwin coach Lynn Washowich said. “But they are so tough to guard. Latrobe gets an 8- or 10-point run, and it is just too much to come back from. They are so impressive.”
After Norwin got to within 65-50 in the fourth, Butler made a pair of short jumpers, and Michael Noonan and Ryan Sickenberger followed with scores to push it to 73-50.
“A lot of times, with the way we play, it gives the other team a lot of shot attempts,” Wetzel said. “I am proud of the way we came out of the gate and helped set the tempo.”
Norwin played without starting senior forward Gianni Rizzo, who was in Texas for the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl all-star football game.
Sophomore Jayden Walker led the Knights with 15 points, eight in the third, and 10 rebounds. Sophomore Ty Bilinsky scored 13, and Liebdzinski had 11.
Bilinsky also made three 3-pointers.
Senior Alex Bisignani also scored eight for Latrobe, which has scored 80 or more points five times this season.
Bill Beckner is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BillBeckner.