Norwin girls basketball coach planning to manage team so it peaks at right time

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Friday, November 25, 2022 | 4:31 PM


Looking to allow recovery time between the fall season and WPIAL winter season, Norwin’s girls basketball team eased into practice instead of going all out like in previous years.

“It’s a different approach,” coach Brian Brozeski said. “We’re a little bit behind. We had more fall involvement than in years past, so we didn’t want to overdo it too early. We’ve had some injuries the last couple years, maybe because we didn’t have that time to recover. I’m a math teacher, so I like the experimenting aspect.”

Norwin has a couple of players back after they missed time with injuries last year. Senior Savannah Schneck and junior Bailey Snowberger are healthy after battling knee issues.

Schneck recovered from a double ACL tear in the same knee, and Snowberger came back from a dislocated knee to have a big softball season last spring and earn a softball scholarship to Holy Cross.

Schneck was a regular in the lineup two years ago.

“We don’t want to put our girls in a position where they are overworking themselves too soon,” Brozeski said. “In years past, we have peaked at the wrong time. We want to peak at the right time, late in the year, in the postseason, when it really matters. There are multiple facets to this, too. It’s physical and mental.”

Schneck, Kathryn Botti and Victoria Sydeski will be key seniors.

“They understand the ebbs and flows, the highs and lows of a season,” Brozeski said. “We’re going to call upon them for leadership.”

Only one full-time starter returns: 6-foot-2 junior forward Lauren Palangio, who averaged 10 points.

Palangio has been a strong post presence for the Lady Knights, and Botti adds size as a 6-footer, but Brozeski wants his team to be balanced and that starts with guard play.

Juniors Ava Kobus and Kendall Williams and sophomore Kendall Berger return to the backcourt. Kobus has a Division II offer from Mansfield.

Depth is a staple in the program, and the Knights could develop a longer bench as results tell the story.

“What combinations will work?” Brozeski asked. “We don’t have as many of those long-minute girls. We’re looking to get them more experience.”

Norwin begins the season ranked No. 4 in WPIAL Class 6A.

The Knights lost in the WPIAL quarterfinals last year after reaching the semifinals in 2020-21.

Class 6A is down from 15 teams to 13, and Norwin is in Section 1 with Butler, Hempfield, North Allegheny, Pine-Richland, and Seneca Valley.

“This is a fun time,” Brozeski said. “Everyone loses pieces and everyone gains pieces. You know the returning players, but there are always those surprises.”

Even with the measured approach to start the year, Brozeski still wished he had more time to get his team ready for tip-off.

Many coaches have voiced their displeasure with the earlier start (Dec. 2), which gives teams two weeks of practice. That is shaved down substantially when you toss in two weekends, two scrimmages and Thanksgiving break.

“Misery loves company,” Brozeski said. “Glad to hear I am not alone. “The schedule doesn’t give us much wiggle room. We’re not going to be perfect early on. I just want us to improve every game. It’s a season of attrition.”

As if the section schedule wasn’t tough enough, Norwin’s nonsection slate is thorny. It includes Mt. Lebanon, Upper St. Clair, North Catholic, Kennedy Catholic, South Fayette, McKeesport, and Indiana.

“It’s the toughest schedule since I’ve been here,” Brozeski said. Norwin has made the WPIAL playoffs 20 straight times.

This is Brozeski’s 12th season. He is 191-70 with five section titles and two WPIAL championships.

Norwin girls at a glance

Coach: Brian Brozeski

Last year’s record: 15-7 (12-2)

Returning starters: Lauren Palangio (Jr., F)

Top newcomers: Kathryn Botti (Sr., G), Kendall Berger (So., G), Ava Kobus (Jr., G), Savannah Schneck (Sr., G/F), Bailey Snowberger (Jr., G), Kendall Williams (Jr. G)

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

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