NEWTOWN SQUARE >> Tyler Norwood’s answer to a question he was expecting is succinct.
The last time Norwood stepped foot in the gym at Marple Newtown was the first round of last year’s PIAA Class 5A tournament, a wretched shooting night for the Penncrest guard that provided an anticlimactic ending to a Player of the Year campaign. So did he think about that at all ahead of Wednesday’s return trip?
“Every day,” he said.
His latest adventure at Marple Newtown wasn’t so excruciating, at least emotionally.
Norwood scored a game-high 20 points, exiting after three quarters with an ankle injury that permitted only a brief late cameo to stanch a Marple run, as Penncrest sprinted to a 61-41 Central League win.
It was a far cry from last March’s states ouster there at the hands of Hershey, a 51-42 loss after an 8-for-30 shooting letdown by Norwood, who had steered the Lions almost single-handedly to a District 1 title. For whatever reason — on the advanced plane that Norwood and his next-level basketball IQ inhabit — Marple simply isn’t a gym in which he shoots well. Yet he fought through it Wednesday, going 7-for-15 from the field and burying two of six looks from beyond the arc.
“Coming into the game, I definitely took it as motivation,” Norwood said. “Missing 22 shots last time I was here, I let my teammates down. I just wanted to come out tonight, play my hardest and just get the job done.”
The key was staying within himself and being judicious in shot selection. There was the trademark step-back 3-pointer on the second possession of the second quarter, one of four triples by the Lions in the frame. He settled for jump shots early but attacked the glass with gusto later on.
And with Norwood knowing his checkered history at Marple, he found others not as burdened by history, like reserve guard Aidan Carroll.
“Before the game, Aidan said to me, ‘Why don’t I miss in this gym?,’” Norwood said. “I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ But he came in and knocked down three 3s. It was a very big burst for us in the first half.”
Carroll, who had just four points in his previous five appearances this season, connected on all three of his shots in the first half, splashing home nine points with his quick release beyond the arc. All three were assisted by Norwood, who dropped five dimes.
Justin Heidig the dime to Malcolm Williams. Penncrest up 22 pic.twitter.com/ZX5YVmeITt
— Matthew De George (@sportsdoctormd) January 4, 2018
In the third quarter, Malcolm Williams stepped to the fore, scoring six of his eight points and brandishing a novel aggressiveness on the offensive end.
“At halftime, (coach Mike Doyle) kind of got on me for not doing enough,” Williams said. “I wasn’t looking at the basket and trying to score. I was just being passive. And I needed to go (to the basket) for us to win.”
“Marple went box-and-1, and I told him, ‘Malc, you’ve got to score. It’s your time to score,’” Norwood said. “I think he took that with him and came out in the second half and played phenomenal.”
Chris Mills posted a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds, while Matt Arbogast added six points and seven boards. Penncrest (9-0, 5-0 Central) shot 59.5 percent (22-for-37) from the field.
The Lions led by 25 points early in the fourth, hoping not to need Norwood again after he came up lame, twisting his ankle on a jump stop. But Marple (5-4, 2-3) got to within 16 points, thanks to Anthony Paoletti and Mike May.
Paoletti scored eight points in the fourth, finishing with 15. May hit three fourth-quarter 3-pointers, tallying 13 points on a day where only four Tigers hit the score sheet.
The surge proved too little, too late.
“We just weren’t in our game in the beginning of the game,” May said. “They took us out of it pretty quick. We couldn’t find our groove that we usually have with Tommy (Gardler) on the wing and Ant in the middle. We just couldn’t knock shots down to keep in it.”
Norwood rose from the bench at the 3:45 mark. After a minute and 14 seconds on the court and a 5-0 Penncrest run that restored the margin to 21, he trotted back to a seat.
“Knowing we’re up the amount we’re up, it’s really just to calm down,” Norwood said. “They’re going to try to run and jump at us. We practice this every day. We have to find the open man, and something will open up eventually.”
It applied in the fourth quarter, and for Norwood that mindset was useful from the very beginning.
Also in the Central League:
Garnet Valley 79, Conestoga 66 >> Austin Laughlin (30 points) and Connor O’Brien (22 points) each buried four 3-pointers in finishing with season-highs in points as the Jags (5-3, 3-2) notched their first ever Central League win over the Pioneers. Greg Vlassopoulos added 13 points, and Cade Brennan grabbed 13 rebounds to go with nine points.
Springfield 64, Radnor 60 >> The Cougars turned up the press in the third quarter, outscoring Radnor 25-8 behind 19 of Mike Webb’s game-high 26 points. Frank Durham added 17 points for Springfield (4-5, 4-1), which snaps a four-game skid.
Lewis Robinson scored a career-high 21 points for Radnor, which got 11 from Jackson Birtwistle.
Ridley 54, Upper Darby 42 >> Kyree Capers was a force in the lane with 19 points, 19 rebounds and three blocks, and Jack Grace’s long-range aim was true with 13 points for the Green Raiders (4-5, 2-3).
Floyd Wedderburn led Upper Darby (6-3, 2-3) with eight points as the Royals see a three-game winning streak snapped.
Strath Haven 62, Harriton 55 >> Cooper Driscoll scored 19 of his game-high 22 points in the first half to go with nine rebounds, and the guards picked up the slack late. Ryan Morris scored 10 fourth-quarter points to finish with 13, and
Jordan Graves added 10 points for the Panthers (5-4, 2-3).
Lower Merion 77, Haverford 44 >> Canaan Curry scored eight points, and Dan Roe and John Schievert chipped in seven apiece, but the Fords (3-6, 1-4) fell.
In the Bicentennial League:
Christian Academy 46, Morrisville 39 >> Tehron Phillips returned from a month out of action with 14 points, Brandon Rochester added 12 points and eight rebounds and Grant Sareyka tossed in 10 points for the Crusaders (3-6, 2-3), as a three-game skid is no more.