High school notebook: Norwin backcourt drawing college interest

Saturday, August 17, 2019 | 5:33 PM

Norwin will have one of the top backcourt duos in WPIAL girls basketball next season in senior point guard Jayla Wehner and shooting guard Olivia Gribble.

Colleges have noticed.

Wehner pulled in three recent offers to play at the next level before verbally committing to Marian, an NAIA program in Indianapolis.

Marian is not your garden variety NAIA program. The Knights won national championships in 2015-16 and 2016-17.

“When the recruiting process started, I was looking for three things: the education, the type of system they run and the coach,” Wehner said. “You always want to go somewhere where you feel wanted, and coach (Katie) Gearlds made me feel that way. I come from a winning program here at Norwin, and winning is important to me.”

She had a Division I offer from Western Carolina and another NAIA one from Michigan-Dearborn. The latter school also extended an offer to Gribble.

The 5-foot-8 Gribble also has an offer from Pitt-Johnstown, a Division II program. A streaky 3-point shooter with excellent free-throw touch, she averaged 13.0 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists last season.

Her sister, Alayna, the all-time girls scorer at Norwin, played at Pitt.

Wehner and Gribble helped Norwin finish 23-3. The Knights reached the WPIAL Class 6A semifinals and PIAA quarterfinals.

Both play AAU basketball for the Western PA Bruins.

The 5-5 Wehner went for 7.7 points, 4.6 assists and 1.7 steals as a junior.

Her mother, Joan, a Norwin assistant, played at Duquesne after graduating from McKeesport.

Basketball ranks

Wehner and Gribble are considered to be among the top 100 players in the state, according to one outlet.

PAGirlsHoopsReport.com recently released its the top 100 players from the Class of 2020, and 42 players from the WPIAL and City League made the list.

Hempfield senior Sarah Liberatore is ranked No. 27. The 5-foot-10 shooting guard averaged 17.3 points as a junior.

Gribble also made the top half of the list, at No. 30. Hannah Potter of Kiski Area is No. 49, Greensburg Central Catholic’s Melina Maietta No. 57, Wehner No. 72, Rachel Wobrak of Belle Vernon is No. 89 and Penn-Trafford’s Bella Long is No. 96.

Ward drawing interest

Division I soccer interest is growing in Greensburg Central Catholic senior Nate Ward, who comes from a family of college-level talent.

Ward, a midfielder who had 25 goals and 13 assists last season for the WPIAL Class A runner-up Centurions, will take an official visit later this month to Indiana in Bloomington.

He also has interest from, and plans to make trips to, Dayton and Xavier.

Ward has two sisters who have played or are playing at the Division I level. Sarah Ward is a senior at St. Francis (Pa.), and Sydney Ward is a sophomore at Akron.

“I talk to them all the time about (the recruiting process),” Nate Ward said. “We talk about what to look for, what kind of questions to ask and how to get recruited. It helps to have them around.”

The Wards are from Connellsville. Natalie Ward is a freshman on the GCC girls soccer team.

Golf rules

When the USGA made numerous rule changes last year, the effects trickled down to all levels of golf.

One such change, which became the “Maximum Score” rule, caps a player’s score after so many strokes over par on a hole — often double-par.

While the rule helps to speed up play, the WPIAL is not permitting golfers to use it in competition. Under the rule, players can “pick up” when they reach the maximum score. The WPIAL, though, is enforcing putting out on every hole. Players who take “gimmies” will be disqualified.

The WPIAL made a revision to its cover page on the district website to address the rule.

“We wanted to make sure no one permitted double par in matches or sectionals,” WPIAL golf steering committee chairperson Jim Croushore said.

Croushore said there is not a widespread problem with players not finishing holes, but the league felt the need to enforce its take on the rule.

Additional rule changes that could impact WPIAL play include leaving the flagstick in to putt and knee-high drops. Those more straightforward rules were not addressed by the WPIAL.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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