PHILADELPHIA >> Wissahickon’s District 1 Class-5A playoff run ended the same way in 2018 as it did in 2017.
Last year, Penncrest knocked off the Trojans in overtime of the quarterfinals behind 30 points from junior Tyler Norwood.
Norwood, now a senior, scored a game-high 18 points and made the key defensive stop to end Wissahickon’s district run, 45-40, in the semifinals Tuesday night at Temple University’s Liacouras Center.
The fourth-seeded Trojans cut their deficit to one, 41-40, when Zach Reiner hit a three with 1:52 to play. Penncrest, the No. 1 seed, extended its advantage to three when Justin Heidig hit two free throws with 25.3 seconds remaining.
Wiss’ Max Rapoport had a chance to tie with a three, but the shot was off and went out of bounds off of the Lions.
“It was forced,” Rapoport said. “I got a couple open looks but they weren’t falling. Sometimes you’re on, sometimes you’re off. My teammates trusted me to take that shot, so I’m out there trying to take it and it didn’t fall. Some things didn’t go our way today.”
The Trojans couldn’t find any breathing room on the ensuing possession and Norwood stripped Eddie Fortescue with 2.2 seconds left and hit two free throws to seal the 45-40 win.
“We tried to get a swing around where we could get a penetrate and kick,” Wissahickon coach Kyle Wilson said. “Eddie was trying to make a play there, but they were good at not giving any separation to let a shot go off. We got caught watching each other there. Instead of somebody setting a good screen, trying to free somebody for something. Just didn’t make the play we needed to there.”
Penncrest will face No. 2 Bishop Shanahan in the title game Saturday back at Temple.
Norwood hit a jumper on the Lions first possession and they led the rest of the way.
The defending district champions jumped out to a 6-0 lead and led 12-7 after the first quarter. They took advantage of a sloppy Wissahickon offense that had five of their 16 turnovers in the first quarter.
“The nerves got to us,” Rapoport said. “We really wanted to get to Temple and we’re finally here. The fact that we were here we came out a little too fast. We calmed down and came back, though.”
Wiss got within one possession a few times in the second quarter — the closest at 19-17 — and went into the break trailing, 21-17.
“(Penncrest) seemed a little more comfortable out of the gate than we did,” Wilson said. “We fought right back. We cut it to 15-12 there for a while. It was a really grinded out game.”
The Lions opened the third on a 10-4 run to take their largest lead of the game, 31-21, The Trojans responded with five straight points — including a Donovan Oliphant three — to make it 31-26 before Norwood hit an acrobatic layup at the buzzer.
“One of my assistants said … we haven’t been out of a game all season,” Wilson said. “It’s just who we are. Whether it’s been PW — you name it. We battle, we battle, we battle. There wasn’t a fear. I didn’t see any of our guys, ‘oh crap, here it goes’ on the big stage. They said let’s keep grinding, let’s make plays and let’s get back in this. Our kids feel battle tested.”
The teams traded baskets for the first half of the fourth before Reiner scored five straight points — two free throws and three-pointer — to make it a 41-40 game in the final two minutes.
Reiner led Wissahickon with 11 points and Rapoport added nine.
The Trojans will face Chester Friday for the District 1 third seed in the state tournament.
“(This loss is) something to build off of,” Wilson said. “If you think about it, we said to them in the locker room, that’s the number one team, that’s the defending champs. You’re not that far off of them. You were a play or two off of that team. Now let’s regroup, play in a playback game against Chester and then let’s see where we are in the state tournament. Come next Friday, it’s a whole different tournament when you’re in the state tournament playing teams that really don’t know your style, you don’t know their’s. I like our chances.”
Penncrest 45, Wissahickon 40
Wissahickon 7 10 9 14 — 40
Penncrest 12 9 12 12 — 45
Wissahickon: Oliphant 2 0-0 6, Fortescue 2 1-2 5, Rapoport 3 0-0 9, Lawrence 1 1-2 3, Ostroski 3 0-0 6, Reiner 4 2-2 11. Total 15 4-6 40.
Penncrest: Norwood 7 4-4 18, Antonelli 2 0-1 4, Heidig 1 3-4 5, Mills 1 0-0 2, Arbogast 3 1-2 7, Williams 3 3-4 9. Total 17 11-15 45.
Three-point goals: W: Oliphant 2, Rapoport 3, Reiner. P: None.
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