Westmoreland H.S. athletes of the week: Norwin’s Adam Bilinsky, Latrobe’s Emma Blair

Saturday, February 19, 2022 | 6:12 PM

Adam Bilinsky

School: Norwin

Sport: Basketball

Year: Junior

Claim to fame: Bilinsky, who is averaging 17.1 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2 blocks this season, scored 31 points to lead Norwin (9-10) to a 63-54 win over Franklin Regional in nonsection action Monday. A few days earlier, he finished with 16 points to lead the Knights to a 48-45 win against Penn-Trafford in Section 3-6A. With the victory, Norwin clinched a WPIAL Class 6A playoff spot. No. 11 Norwin will face No. 6 Butler (11-9) in the first round at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Butler. Norwin beat Butler, 69-61, on Jan. 25.

“It was a big win as we head into the playoffs. We started out hot early and kept it going,” Bilinsky said.

What did it mean to clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 2015-16?

It’s great since it hasn’t been done for awhile. Our team is talented but not as talented as other years, so it feels great.

What will the team need to do to pull off the upset against Butler?

We definitely need to play defense. We beat them once, so who says we can’t beat them twice?

Who’s your favorite player to go up against and why?

I would say either Eli Yofan at Fox Chapel or Dante DePante at Central Catholic. Mainly because those are two talented, strong guards. Dante, we’ve been close friends for the past year. It’s nice to see what he does on the court because I’m always with him off the court.

What’s it been like to be under the new coach, Lance Maha?

The transition was very smooth. We are a very disciplined group. There’s a lot of tradition that he has brought to our group. I know he wants to make it a staple of Norwin basketball.

What’s your first memory of playing basketball?

I have two older brothers. One of them is playing basketball at Pitt-Johnstown. We would play downstairs on the mini hoop. I didn’t win a game until I was like eight years old. It was fun playing against them on the mini hoop.

Emma Blair

School: Latrobe

Sport: Basketball

Year: Junior

Claim to fame: Blair, who is averaging 14.2 points and 13.3 rebounds this season, scored 18 points to lead Latrobe (17-3) to a 56-37 win over Penn-Trafford in nonsection play Monday. She added 14 points in a 69-38 win over Hempfield in nonsection play Feb. 12. No. 7 Latrobe will face No. 10 Mars (17-5) in the first round of the WPIAL Class 5A playoffs at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Latrobe.

“It’s been going pretty well for myself and the whole team. We’ve been working well together. If I can’t get the ball inside, we have shooters on the outside,” Blair said.

What does the team need to do to come out with the win against Mars?

We need to keep doing what we’ve been doing. We need to go out there and play as hard as we can and keep playing well together.

What did the team learn from the one loss to McKeesport in section play?

It was a big loss, but we were able to be co-section champs with McKeesport. We’ve learned from that loss.

What’s it like to have Anna Rafferty back for the playoff run after missing action this season?

It’s really good to have her back in there. It was really good to have her play the last couple of games so we are used to each other as we head into the playoffs.

What’s your favorite thing about the game of basketball and why?

I love the competition and enthusiasm the sport brings. I love being out there with my teammates and giving it our all.

What’s one thing people might not know about you off the court?

I spend a lot of my time with my family. My grandparents are a really big part of my life. I spend a lot of my time with my friends as well.

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