North Allegheny girls rally past Norwin to return to WPIAL Class 6A title game

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Monday, February 27, 2023 | 9:16 PM


Before Jasmine Timmerson left Fox Chapel and headed for the team bus, she had one last thing to do.

She had to pick up the team’s basketball bag. It’s a heavy, fully loaded basketball bag, which Timmerson could hide inside if she wanted to.

A lot of teams have freshmen lug the heavy carrier around. But Timmerson volunteered to do the heavy lifting, just like she did Monday night in a 38-36 victory over rival Norwin in the WPIAL Class 6A semifinals.

“If they’re going to follow me to the championship game, they need to see I am willing to do things like that,” Timmerson said.

Said Tigers’ coach Spencer Stefko: “That’s what she does every game.”

Timmerson, a senior Pitt recruit who will get to play for a championship on her future college home floor, had 12 points and a key steal late for the No. 2 Tigers (19-5), who will play Upper St. Clair at 7 p.m. Friday at Petersen Events Center.

No. 3 Norwin (20-4) will play a third-place game Wednesday against Mt. Lebanon (17-7) for placement in the PIAA tournament.

Timmerson, and fellow guards Cam Phillips, Caroline Henderson and Lydia Betz, helped bring the Tigers back from a 10-point deficit in the third quarter. They negotiated Norwin’s height advantage.

Norwin, which did not attempt a free throw after the first quarter, led 20-15 at halftime and 27-20 after three quarters.

The 3-pointers that rimmed out early for North Allegheny went down late in the team’s third matchup of the season.

The teams split during section play.

“They knocked down some shots,” Norwin coach Brian Brozeski said of the Tigers in the second half. “They were running off single- and double-screens to get open. We challenged those shots.”

Timmerson hit a 3-pointer to open the fourth to cut the deficit to two, then Henderson picked off a pass and scored on a layup to tie it 32-32.

Norwin grabbed a pair of one-point leads before Timmerson made a free throw to make it 36-36 lead for with about four minutes left.

Betz scored on a cutting layup with 2 minutes, 40 seconds left to make it 38-36 — the Tigers’ first advantage since 11-9.

“It stinks to be on this side of it,” Brozeski said. “This was good basketball from both teams. We had some turnovers that hurt us. We all make mistakes. The key is to learn from them.”

Kendall Berger had a look for 3 from the far corner with 1.5 seconds remaining, but Kellie McConnell got a hand on the ball as it went up.

“That was the close-out of the year,” Timmerson said.

Norwin had four points in the fourth.

“The lid went on,” Brozeski said.

North Allegheny, the WPIAL champion four times in the seven years since the advent of six classes in the WPIAL, celebrated at the final buzzer.

“This means something,” Stefko said, reinterating his respect for Norwin. “We’re not playing the Sisters of Charity, here. You see that explosion when it’s over. It feels different.”

Said Brozeski: “It’s the subtle things that make all the difference in these games.”

Norwin, which got a game-high 16 points from Berger, went ahead 25-15 early in the second quarter.

Phillips hit a pair of 3s in the third, the third to answer a 3 from Berger, to close the gap to 32-27 heading to the fourth.

“There was never a point where we got down on ourselves,” Timmerson said. “Everybody showed up and did their part. Shooting comes and goes, but we knew we had to keep defending. With Norwin, we know each other so well. It’s like arguing with your siblings when we play them.”

Lauren Palangio added 10 points for Norwin.

Phillips and Betz each had eight for the Tigers.

Norwin had held five straight opponents under 30 points.

The Tigers have won 11 of their last 12 games. They also edged the Knights in the 2019 semifinals, also at Fox Chapel, 37-36.

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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