Penncrest, with an undersize but gritty lineup, is bidding to make its ninth consecutive appearance in the PIAA District 1 boys' basketball playoffs.
Odds are that the Lions will achieve that goal as they were 12-2 overall and 8-0 in the Central League entering Wednesday night's contest against Marple Newtown.
Mike Doyle's squad was riding a 12-game winning streak entering its contest against the Tigers. It opened the season with taut nonleague losses against Phoenixville and Academy Park.
"The kids have done a nice job of buying into our offensive style," Doyle said. "We do a lot of off-the-ball screening to get good looks at the basket."
Junior point guard Tyler Norwood is shooting 53 percent from the field while averaging 24.5 points per game.
"He has an unbelievable shooting stroke. He keeps the ball on a string, and he's a great finisher," Doyle said.
As a freshman reserve, the 5-foot-8 Norwood helped Penncrest qualify for the Class 4A state tournament. He caught Doyle's attention while playing at Media's Springton Lake Middle School.
"I knew he was a special kind of player," the coach said. "A lot of schools recruited him. Luckily, we were able to keep him."
Doyle, a former assistant at St. Joseph's University, said Norwood reminds him in some ways of former Neumann-Goretti and Hawk standout Rashid Bey (class of 1998).
Through Tuesday, Norwood, who poured in a career-high 38 points in a Dec. 17 nonleague win at Chichester, had drilled 39 three-pointers.
The Lions also have double-digit scoring threats in 6-3 swingman Mike Mallon and 5-11 wing guard Justin Ross, both seniors. Ross is the son of former Delaware coach Monte Ross.
Junior forward Chris Mills, senior guard Manny Ruffin, junior guard Justin Heidig, and sophomore forwards Matt Arbogast and Malcolm Williams are also in the mix.
Behind Norwood's 31 points, Penncrest rallied from a 16-point halftime deficit to beat Central League rival Springfield, 50-45, earlier this month.
The Lions will visit Conestoga (11-2, 8-0 Central through Tuesday) in a first-place league showdown at 7 p.m. Friday in Berwyn.
In the most recent District 1 Class 5A power rankings, Penncrest was ranked second behind Chester. Strath Haven, Phoenixville, and Holy Ghost Prep rounded out the top five.
Kyle Thompson (15.4 ppg.), Darius Kinnel (15.2), and Ed Crosswell (15.1) are the leading scorers for St. Joseph's Prep. . . . Episcopal Academy's Conner Delaney (18.9 ppg.) and Jack O'Connell have each hit 30 treys. Teammate Jack O'Reilly, a 6-3 sophomore forward, recently committed to play baseball at Notre Dame. He's an infielder and righthanded pitcher. . . . Hatboro-Horsham's Jay Davis and Clifton Moore average 20.6 and 18.3 points, respectively. . . . Lower Merion's Terrell Jones averages 18.9 points per game. . . . Father Judge's Marc Rodriguez (44) and Matt O'Connor (37) have combined to hit 81 treys. . . . Germantown Friends senior guard Mike Buckmire (21.6 ppg.) is 21 points shy of the 1,000-point career mark. . . . Boyertown's Jerry Kapp (22.5 ppg.) has nailed 54 treys. . . . Central Bucks West's Collin MacAdams averages 16.8 points. . . . Westtown's Cameron Reddish averages 19.4 points. The junior has converted 107 of 122 free throws (87.7 percent). . . . In a nonleague schedule change, Strath Haven will visit Coatesville at 1 p.m. Saturday.