Championships highlight banner school year for Norwin sports

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Saturday, June 15, 2024 | 11:01 AM


It started with a bang in the fall. It ended with a surprise in the spring.

With a bounty of success, Norwin’s 2023-24 sports year called for more space on the gymansium walls as athletic director Mike Burrell placed orders for championship banners.

Fall

The boys soccer team used its No. 8 seeding as motivation and flew below the favorites before weaving a string of upsets and capturing its first WPIAL championship.

George Bunovich scored the game-clinching goal in a penalty kick shootout as Norwin clipped No. 2 North Allegheny, 2-1 (5-2 PKs) on a perfect November night on the river at Station Square.

“This shows so much about our character and who we are,” Knights goalkeeper Anthony Scalise said.

Owen Christopher, Alex Brown, Daniel Maddock and Chase Molinaro also all scored in the shootout at Highmark Stadium.

Maddock had the goal in regulation.

Norwin (17-6-1) went on to reach the PIAA semifinals. Three of their six postseason games went to PKs and the Knghts won half of them, including a run-starting 3-2 win over Seneca Valley in the WPIAL quarterfinals.

Also in the fall, Norwin sophomore golfer Lia Guzzie made a hole-in-one at the WPIAL Section 3-3A tournament at Indiana Country Club.

Quarterback Tristyn Tavares had a record-breaking season leading the Knights’ offense. He set single-season program marks for passing yards (2,459) and touchdowns (25). Big-play receivers Jackson Pons and Luke Denny were two of the top targets in the state.

Pons is a Miami of Ohio commit.

Hockey star Alex Thomas broke career program records for goals, points and assists. He signed with the Colorado Grit of the North American Hockey League.

Winter

The Norwin girls basketball team didn’t catch anybody by surprise. It’s tough to do that when you’re a favorite from the preseason on.

The Lady Knights powered their way to their third WPIAL championship, taking the 6A title with a 56-41 victory over rival North Allegheny at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center.

Norwin, which had the best defensive scoring average in 6A (37.6 ppg), rolled past Seneca Valley and Chartiers Valley to reach the finals.

Forward Lauren Palangio was the centerpiece of a balanced lineup that also included guards Kendall Berger, Ava Kobus, Bailey Snowberger and Ava Christopher.

“‘Great’ was the word of the day,” Palangio said after a championship that saw her earn MVP honors with 12 points and 15 rebounds.

A deep bench added to an exprienced group that finished 23-4.

Norwin’s run ended in the PIAA quarterfinals.

Freshman wrestling sensation Landon Sidun had a breakthrough debut season on the mat, winning a PIAA championship in his first try.

After a tough loss to Butler’s Santino Sloboda in the WPIAL finals, Sidun defeated Curtis Nelson of Ridley, 6-3, for gold before thousands of fans at Hershey’s Giant Center.

“I’ve looked forward to this moment all year,” Sidun said.

Spring

Luke Denny, a Lehigh football commit who was a standout wide receiver and defensive back for Norwin, won a WPIAL 3A track and field title in the 400-meter race.

Norwin’s boys and girls track and field teams finished second in the WPIAL.

The Norwin softball team went from a No. 5 seed — in a six-team field — to the WPIAL 6A finals.

The first-time finalists then gave No. 2 Seneca Valley all it could handle in a 4-3 loss in eight innings.

Bailey Snowberger, a Holy Cross commit and a celebrated athlete at Norwin, had a double and key putout in the loss.

The Knights’ boys volleyball team had a terrific season, earning a bye into the WPIAL 3A quarterfinals before falling to Seneca Valley, 3-1.

The Knights finished 15-4.

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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