Zach Rocco shares spotlight as Penn-Trafford rolls over Norwin

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Tuesday, January 14, 2020 | 10:06 PM


Teams know what they are getting when they play Penn-Trafford: a steady dose of Zach Rocco.

But as the Warriors go through the season, something is happening. A supporting cast is taking shape and Rocco, the team’s lone senior, does not have to do it all.

Make no mistake, Rocco is the centerpiece. He scored 27 points Tuesday night. But he had plenty of help in a 64-38 victory over Norwin in a WPIAL Section 3-6A game.

Penn-Trafford (9-4, 3-2) made 10 3-pointers, five from Rocco and three from sophomore Nick Crum, to soundly defeat the rival Knights (9-4, 1-4) in Harrison City.

The Warriors shared it, defended it and made shots.

Budding sophomore Ben Myers, a 6-foot-5 forward, gave the Warriors strong minutes, scoring eight points while getting position around the rim and altering shots.

Crum scored all 12 of his points in the second half as the Warriors pulled away.

Juniors Josh Kapcin, Silas Koscho and Chase Vecchio and even 6-6 junior forward Tyler Campbell, off the bench, all played a part in the victory.

Eight players scored for Penn-Trafford, which had lost three of four coming in.

“Those guys have been trying to play that way all year,” Rocco said. “They were fired up and more confident tonight. I thought this was our best passing game of the year.”

Norwin, which had won three of its last five coming in, only led once, at 2-0. It was flat offensively and lacked variety in its attack.

The Knights went to a box-and-1 defense briefly on Rocco to try to slow him down, but the offense did not reciprocate.

“It was one of those nights,” Norwin coach Buddy Valinsky said. “They shot, what, 70% in the first half? I have been telling these guys for two days that Rocco is the best player on the court. We’ve been playing well, but our kids need to realize we can’t just walk into the gym and expect to win.”

Penn-Trafford, meanwhile, scored in several ways, inside and out.

Rocco, who attended Norwin through the eighth grade, scored 11 in the first quarter and 17 in the first half, including four 3-pointers, as the Warriors built a 31-22 advantage.

Rocco completed a rare four-point play with 3:41 left in the second quarter to make it 27-14.

The Knights could only cut it to nine the rest of the way as the Warriors built a 44-26 lead after three quarters. Norwin managed just two field goals and four points in the third.

“This game shows how P-T is meant to play,” said Rocco, who scored 10 in the fourth while Crum netted eight.

Norwin had 12 points as a team in the final frame. It didn’t make a three until the last quarter.

Junior 6-3 forward Jayden Walker had eight points in the second quarter for Norwin, and 16 for the game, but the Warriors did not make it easy for him, and he lacked help.

Myers and Campbell challenged his shots and forced him to pump fake to get clean looks.

Knights’ junior Ty Bilinsky, the team’s top scorer, was limited to five points, all in the first half. He was trying to play through the flu.

“He missed practice (Monday) and I probably should have held him out,” Valinsky said. “He was pretty sick.”

Valinsky noticed more energy from his opponent from early on.

“Teams are going to work and be ready for us,” he said. “P-T was pumped up and it showed.”

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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