Norwin do-it-all basketball standout Kendall Berger ‘never satisfied’

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Sunday, February 26, 2023 | 5:22 PM


Kendall Berger saw minimal varsity time last season for Norwin.

She was just another role player in a long line of them, which was fine with her because she was only a freshman and welcomed playing time however it came.

Norwin likes to substitute readily, sometimes swapping five for five, even in close games.

But Berger’s role has changed substantially this season. She is a key scorer and defender for the Knights (20-3), the No. 3 seed in the WPIAL Class 6A playoffs who will take on No. 4 North Allegheny (18-5) in Monday’s semifinals.

The rivals will tip at 6 p.m. at Fox Chapel.

The smooth guard can shoot it, drive it, steal it or handle it.

The stern sophomore also seems to get “it.”

“The coaches have put confidence in me,” Berger said. “They believe in me, make or miss. If I am on, they want to get me the ball. They know they can go to me, but if someone else is on, I can distribute to them.”

Berger had 21 points in Norwin’s 57-26 quarterfinal win Thursday over visiting Baldwin. Norwin was dominant from wire to wire, suffocating the Highlanders defensively, while using its size advantage and depth to pull away.

Berger, who leads a balanced team with 12.8 points per game, likes to play fast and push the pace. She doesn’t mind getting the ball in a pressure-packed situation.

“She’s one of these players who is never satisfied. How can I get better?” Norwin coach Brian Brozeski said. “What is impressive is how hard she has worked.”

Norwin split two games with North Allegheny, a team that beat the Knights, 37-36, in the 2019 semifinals at Fox Chapel.

Berger wouldn’t know much about that game. She was in sixth grade. Her coach knew about her then, though.

“From a young age, you could see it with Kendall,” Brozeski said. “It was a matter of time before you unleashed her God-given talent and tied it into her skill set.”

Norwin’s last win over the Tigers in the playoffs came in the 2016 WPIAL championship when the Knights won 63-57 for back-to-back titles in Class 4A.

North Allegheny has been dynastic since the advent of 6A in 2017. The Tigers have four district titles in six years.

“We have been looking forward to seeing them again,” Berger said. “We’ve definitely thought about it.”

In the teams’ second matchup this season, North Allegheny was pulling away when Berger stopped the bleeding and made it a much closer finish.

She scored the Knights’ last 11 points of the night and finished with 16 in a 52-45 loss.

Norwin trailed 30-18 at halftime but, thanks to Berger, scored 19 in the final quarter.

When asked to compare Berger to a previous player he has coached, Brozeski said “Kendall is Kendall.”

“They’re all unique,” Brozeski said. “I mean, you can probably take traits from several players we’ve had and put them together and you have Kendall.”

A multi-sport participant growing up, Berger said she played baseball, softball and flag football, among other games.

She gravitated to basketball more than the others. She also runs track.

“I clung to it,” she said of basketball. “I have a lot of friends on the team. It’s a family atmosphere, 24-7. I have amazing teammates.”

Berger said she shoots every day, even if it’s at a basket at a local daycare center where her mother, Kate, is the program director.

JB’s Bright Beginnings has a hoop, and Kendall Berger stretches the net more with every swish.

The difference with her game and her practice venue is this: She doesn’t need a babysitter any more.

“My dad (John) always pushed me to work hard,” she said. “I want to be more aggressive. That is something I am working on, being more physical.”

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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