Ty Bilinsky’s big 4th quarter helps Norwin boys get key win over Hempfield

Tuesday, January 21, 2020 | 10:30 PM

Norwin gave Hempfield a two-minute warning.

Down eight points to start the fourth quarter, the visiting Knights saved their best for last.

They took their first lead with almost two minutes remaining Tuesday night at Hempfield and never gave it back on the way to an important 53-46 Section 3-6A victory.

Junior guard Ty Bilinsky scored 13 of his game-high 24 points in the final quarter as Norwin split the season series with the Spartans and gave its playoff hopes a boost under first-year coach Buddy Valinsky.

The Knights (10-4, 2-4) are tied with Connellsviille for fourth place. The top four teams make the playoffs.

Norwin made 21 of 24 free throws in a stagnant, deadpan kind of game, including 9 of 11 during a 24-point fourth quarter when Bilinsky brought the Knights back.

“I saw were down eight or nine, and I knew we needed a big shot,” Bilinsky said. “I felt like I needed to step up.”

Hempfield (8-8, 3-3), alone in third place, led 28-18 early in the third quarter and had the advantage at 37-29 to open the final quarter. But Bilinsky scored seven straight points to cut it to 39-37, and junior Nick Fleming made two free throws to tie it.

It was deadlocked twice more, at 41-41 and 44-44, before freshman Adam Bilinsky found space along the baseline and scored on a layup to finally put Norwin in front 46-44.

A four-point play jump-started the surge as Ty Bilinsky was fouled on a 3-point make from the corner.

Both teams settled on running offensive sets, which limited fast-break chances.

“Once we got into our sets, we got easier shots,” Ty Bilinsky said. “Most of our sets were for layups, so converted layups are a lot easier than making jump shots and it got us back in the game. It was a really slow game.

Valinsky wanted the ball in Ty Bilinsky’s hands as the Knights rallied.

“He has the green light to do whatever he wants,” Valinsky said of Bilinsky. “I’ve had seven 1,000-point scorers. If there is a kid who can score, I know how to get him points. There is enough stuff out there to get him points.”

Knights junior forward Jayden Walker, who had 18 points — nine points in each half — scored inside for a 48-44 advantage with 45 seconds left.

Bilinsky, a a wide receiver in football, took a deep pass from Fleming on an inbounds play and made a layup with 16 seconds remaining to make it 51-46, after a layup by Hempfield senior forward Marcus McCarthy.

Norwin played man-to-man defense, a change from the zone it used against Hempfield in the first meeting. Norwin, which had lost three of its last four games, dropped a 48-35 decision to the Spartans in North Huntingdon earlier in the season.

“We played good defense,” Valinsky said. “We changed our philosophy and came out more man like we did last time. Once I coach in this conference a little bit, I’ll be able to make some adjustments the second time around on teams. This is a great conference. Hempfield is a well-coached team. I better be on my A-game every time I coach against these guys, and I’m figuring that our very quickly.”

Hempfield, which came in on a three-game winning streak, got 20 points from junior Michael Hosni and 13 from junior Christian Zilli. Both made three 3-pointers.

But the Spartans were unable to put the Knights away. They had five field goals in the second half.

“Give Norwin credit. They played well,” Hempfield coach Bill Swan said. “I needed to do a better job coaching tonight. It’s on me. I needed to do a better job finding ways to get to score.”

Hosni scored 12 points in the second quarter of a stuck-in-the-mud first half to help put the Spartans ahead 26-18 at the half.

Bilinsky led the comeback, but Walker made his presence felt as well. He was a difference-maker after he missed the first game against Hempfield. He joined the Knights late after having offseason shoulder surgery.

“Walker opens it up for everyone,” Valinsky said. “He rebounds well and made some nice passes, too. He gives us other options without even scoring.”

Ty Bilinsky and Walker combined for 42 points, four fewer than Hempfield had as a team.

Walker, a 6-foot-4 lefty, made 10 of 11 free throws. He helped to clog the lane and cancel out Hempfield’s size. The 6-5 McCarthy was held to eight points.

“It takes a while to learn how to play good defense,” Valinsky said. “I have only been here a few months. Every practice gets better and better. It was a great win. Everyone that played contributed in some way. They hustled their butts off tonight.”

Hempfield had a 7-5 lead after one quarter.

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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