Connect with us


Norwin Dethrones North Allegheny in WPIAL Girls’ Class 6A Championship, 56-41




PITTSBURGH — For the second time on Friday at the Petersen Events Center, a girls team tried to go for back-to-back WPIAL titles, and for the second time, they failed.

While North Allegheny came in as the defending WPIAL Class-6A champions, and winners of five of the last seven WPIAL finals, Norwin put on a great defensive performance throughout the WPIAL Girls’ 6A Final, winning 56-41.

The Knights (21-3) get their third victory against the Tigers (21-3) this season, as they won 47-42 on the road on Jan. 2 and dominated in a 64-44 victory at home on Jan. 25. This WPIAL Championships is the first for the Knights in eight years and their third overall, winning their first two titles back-to-back in 2015 and 2016.

“[Norwin] made some minor adjustments [since the first two meetings],” Tigers head coach Spencer Stefko said. “They were just more on point with some of the things we were trying to do to attack them and that’s a credit to them.”

The WPIAL title for Norwin means so much for not only for the players, but the students and the community as a whole. Head coach Brian Brozeski noted the veteran presence in his team and how they’ve worked their entire high school careers for this moment.

“It is one of the more special moments, coaching wise, that I ever had,” Brozeski said. “Especially with this senior group. They have been through a lot individually and together but I love the fact that they stayed together and they battled through it. This is a year in waiting but I love the fact that they weren’t deterred when they came back strong and they are able to be [champions] with legitimate gold around their necks. I couldn’t be more proud right now.”

The Tigers controlled the start of the match, as they stormed off to a 6-0 lead to begin the game. The Knights answered back with a 7-0 run of their own but the Tigers’  again used a 6-0 run to stay in front, 12-7.

The scoring started to even out after the initial stretch of scoring run. Norwin managed to tie the game at 12 before the first quarter ended due to a three-pointer from junior guard Bella Furno.

Furno finished the game as the Knights fourth-leading scorer with eight points, all coming off the bench.

“We definitely did [get quality bench play],” Brozeski said. “Bella and Averi were able to come in, I think Bella had eight points in the first half. It is tough coming off of the bench. We knew coming into this game we had some possible fatigue issues so with the media timeouts it was important for us to go ahead and get people to get their jitters out, get some bench people in and get them used to that rotation.”

The Knights grabbed their second lead of the night to open the second quarter, when sophomore guard Ava Christopher hit a running floater.

The Knights offense followed that basket with seven more points, and coupled with their run from the end of the first quarter, the Knights scored 14 straight points. Senior forward Lauren Palangio spurred the run, as she hit a pair of free throws and fought for every inch of the paint.

Christopher ended the game with a game-high 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting and added seven rebounds in the championship victory. Palangio led the Knights in rebounds with a game-high 15 which came in addition to her 12 points.

“We know [Palangio] is a really good player,” Stefko said. “We try to flood her with bodies and with fresh bodies. Tonight she was just really good and that is a ton of credit to her. I don’t think that was any laziness or selfishness or anything negative on our part. Sometimes you just have a kid playing really well and she was really doggone good tonight on both ends of the floor and she should be commended for that.”

While the Tigers finally answered with a lay-up by senior Lydia Betz, the Knights stretched their lead to 10 points by the end of the first half as they outscored the defending champs 16-6 in the second quarter, making it a double-digit advantage at 28-18.

Betz finished the championship loss with a team-high 13 points for the Tigers.

“Coming off of that rocky start we just regrouped and said ‘This one is ours’ and we have to play like it is,” Knights guard Ava Kubos said. “We got back up and we managed to win.”

The third quarter saw the Knights continue to build upon their lead. Senior guard Kendall Berger scored the first two baskets of the quarter and the Knights enjoyed a 14 point lead early in the second half. Over the span of the rest of the third, the Tigers attempted to climb back into it but still trailed by 13 points at the end of three quarters.

The Knights’ offensive attack began to overwhelm the Tigers in the fourth quarter, as senior guard Bailey Snowberger opened the quarter with a three which extended the gap to 16 points. The Knights finished the game with three players scoring in double-digits and another player with a 15-rebound night.

“We understand that for us to succeed, it is just us being ourselves,” Brozeski said. “Don’t try to do more, don’t try to do less, don’t settle for less. I love the fact that [Christopher] didn’t know she had 16 points. It’s not about that. Lauren didn’t know she had 15 rebounds. It felt like she had every rebound, it was great. Thank God she is wearing a Norwin uniform… Coach O is doing a phenomenal job of in-game adjustments, he is our offensive coordinator.”

While the Knights will celebrate the win, neither team is done with basketball as both advance to the PIAA state playoffs.

Norwin will host, or play somewhere in the WPIAL, William Penn in York, who finished seventh place in District III. North Allegheny will take on either the winner of Altoona or Erie, the winner of the District Six, Eight or 10 regional. Both games come in the First Round of the PIAA playoffs and take place next Friday, March 8.

“[Our team] is a perfect recipe,” Brozeski said. “It’s not putting the same ingredient into a cake and coming out with something different. You can’t make an apple pie and just put apples in it. You need the apples, the flour, the eggs, the sugar, you need a little bit of everything… If you look across [our team], this is all of the different ingredients.”

While his team is not a cake or apple pie, Brozeski and his team will carry their momentum into the state playoffs. If they play with the same chemistry as they did Friday night, Norwin has a chance to go a long way.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
Click to comment
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Get PSN in your inbox!

Enter your email and get all of our posts delivered straight to your inbox.

Like Pittsburgh Sports Now on Facebook!
Send this to a friend