MIDDLETOWN >> Tyler Norwood wanted to talk about his teammates after he scored 30 points to help Penncrest to a 60-56 overtime PIAA District One Class 5A quarterfinal victory over Wissahickon at the Lions’ Kaufman Gymnasium Saturday night.
“It was about getting Justin (Ross) and the other seniors to Temple,” said Norwood, a junior who scored the 1,000th point of his varsity career with 1 minute, 55 seconds to play in the extra period.
Norwood, Ross and the third-seeded Lions qualified for the PIAA Class 5A tournament and will play in the district semifinal round against second-seeded Great Valley at Temple University Wednesday night.
Penncrest had to survive a wild fourth period in which it did not make a field goal (0-for-5), getting all seven of its points on five Norwood free throws and two by senior Chris Mills. Four of Norwood’s foul shots came with 4:44 left in the quarter when he was fouled and Wissahickon’s Shane Ford (12 points, seven rebounds, two blocked shots) was charged with a technical foul in a scrum that followed the personal foul.
When Norwood was finished making those foul shots, his team had a 51-44 lead. Two minutes later, he was 1-for-2 at the line, ending a streak in which he hit a dozen in a row. Max Rapoport countered with a 3-point shot for the 11th-seeded Trojans, and Donovan Oliphant made two steals and tied the score at 52 with 1:44 to play.
Ross missed two foul shots with 1:32 on the clock, but Norwood forced Zach Gelman into a turnover with 5.7 seconds to play. Ross then couldn’t hit a long try at the buzzer.
“This game was won at the defensive end,” Penncrest coach Mike Doyle said. “That team has a high-powered offense, but we got stops when we had to.
“Ross was phenomenal in the third period, and what can you say about Tyler. He’s played against every kind of defense you can think of, but when we need to go to him he comes up with the big play.”
Lions senior Mike Mallon and the Trojans’ Gelman traded a pair of free throws in the opening minute of overtime, and Marlyn Johnson gave the visitors the lead on a steal and basket with 3:01 left.
With the clock reading 1:55, Norwood went to the line. When his first shot swished through, he had reached 1,000 career points. He added another foul shot, then after a Wissahickon miss at the line, Norwood fired in the only field goal of overtime.
Ross had a key rebound, then Mills, whose six points all came at the line, hit two foul shots to set the final score.
“I’m speechless,” Norwood said after the post-game celebration had calmed down. “We took the things we do in practice and put them on the court and got it done tonight.
“(Rapoport) was just doing what his coach told him and trying to get in my head. I’m just glad we’re getting the chance to play at Temple. I’ve put in a lot of work, and it’s great that I got to 1,000 points. But the others have done so much for me, like Chris Mills and Mike Mallon setting screens and people passing me the ball. I think it’s great we’ll have something to look forward to at practice Monday.”
Ross was worried that his 0-for-4 at the foul line as well as his early foul problems would turn out to be what cost the Lions the chance at a victory.
“I got my first foul, and that led to my second foul and I had to sit out a lot of the first half,” he said. “I really wanted to come back and do something after halftime so I wouldn’t have to blame myself.”
Wissahickon coach Kyle Wilson felt his Trojans, who upset sixth-seeded Phoenixville in the opening round of the playoffs, had a chance to make it two surprise wins in a row.
“We came here today expecting to win,” Wilson said. “We know they have an outstanding player, but we felt we could put five people out on the floor who could get the job done for us.