Bigger, stronger Norwin girls outmuscle Penn-Trafford for nonsection win

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Tuesday, December 5, 2023 | 8:42 PM


Norwin’s girls looked taller and stronger when they took the court against rival Penn-Trafford.

A coach joked that someone stretched the players out in the offseason.

No, it’s just a reflection of intense conditioning and the returning WPIAL and PIAA semifinalists getting into game shape.

Norwin, the No. 2-ranked team in Class 6A, had to do some heavy lifting when Penn-Trafford came back but settled on a 46-37 nonsection victory Tuesday night in North Huntingdon.

“They spent a year in the weight room, and that builds confidence,” Lady Knights coach Brian Brozeski said. “Look stronger, play stronger.

“We have a long way to go, but we’ll get better. You practice more than you play.”

Senior forward Lauren Palangio had 14 points, senior guard Ava Kobus added 12 and junior guard Kendall Berger chipped in 10 for Norwin (2-0), which held the Lady Warriors without a field goal in the third quarter when they outscored them 12-2.

That gave them some spacing after a tight first half, and they held back the Warriors’ late push.

“P-T is not just going to turn over,” Brozeski said. “They have one of their deeper teams. They have wild cards, so you don’t know who might give them a spark.”

Junior guard Bella Furno made three straight 3-pointers in the third to give Norwin a 38-23 lead heading into the final eight minutes.

Palangio, who was a force in the middle and clogged the lane, scored inside to give the Knights a 15-point lead early in the fourth.

“We never know who is going to give us a spark,” Brozeski said. “I am proud of Bella. I know she didn’t have the best first half.

“She doesn’t get those looks unless Bailey (Snowberger) finds her in the corner in her shot pocket or Kendall giving her that skip pass.”

A 7-0 run by Penn-Trafford, including a 3 by sophomore guard Torrie DeStefano and a pull-up jumper by junior forward Lauren Marton, trimmed the margin to 40-32.

But Berger scored on a tough drive through traffic to get the lead back to double figures.

Marton made a 3 and a two-pointer to get the Warriors within 45-37 with just under a minute remaining.

“I don’t think our girls can play any harder,” Penn-Trafford coach John Giannikas said. “For three quarters, it was nip and tuck. We had a cold spell. To be honest, we shouldn’t have went to a zone. I wanted a change of pace. I will take the blame for this game.

“This was a good game for us. We gave them too many transition buckets.”

Marton finished with nine points. Senior Olivia Pepple, a Gannon commit, led all scorers with 15, 13 in the first half.

“We stayed calm when things got hectic and they started to come back,” said Palangio, a 6-foot-1 Holy Family commit. “A big part of our game plan was to make them shoot from the outside. We trusted our instincts and made adjustments on the fly.”

Kobus had nine points in the second quarter to pull Norwin out of a hole.

Marton scored late in the half to put the Warriors up 21-20, but Kobus made back-to-back buckets inside and Palangio finished a feed from Furno to make it 26-21 at halftime.

DeStefano finished with eight for the Warriors.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at bbeckner@triblive.com.

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