Norwin girls basketball looks to future after abrupt playoff exit
Sunday, March 6, 2022 | 11:01 AM
Norwin had momentum, a nine-point halftime lead and its sights on a return to the WPIAL Class 6A girls basketball semifinals.
But Bethel Park wasn’t ready to fold with two quarters to play.
The fifth-seeded Black Hawks rallied to take down the No. 4 Lady Knights, 42-36, in the quarterfinals to advance and, in the process, end Norwin’s season.
The Lady Knights pushed back in the second half but could not regain the lead after Bethel Park went ahead with just less than three minutes to play.
“We were playing well and thought if we could keep them in the 30s, we might be all right,” Norwin coach Brian Brozeski said. “We knew they had a lot of firepower and they showed it in the second half.”
The WPIAL decided to send more teams to the PIAA playoffs this year but only the top four — the semifinalists — in Class 6A advanced. That meant Norwin’s season is finished at 15-6.
Players left the locker room in tears and greeted family and friends with hugs after the tough defeat.
“I am proud of our girls. Their effort was never a question,” Brozeski said. “It’s tough. It dawned on some of them that this is it. It’s all part of the experience.”
Norwin saw the return of senior Chloe Lukondi to the starting five after she missed four games with an ankle injury.
Sophomore forward Lauren Palangio also was at full strength after dealing with a shoulder ailment, and sophomore guard Bailey Snowberger came back from a knee injury.
Lukondi is one of four seniors the team will lose to graduation, joining Brianna Zajicek, Alyssa Laukus and Maggie Race.
They all started.
However, the Knights will bring back most of their deep rotation, which stretched, at times, to 10.
Palangio, junior Kathryn Botti, sophomores Ava Kobus and Snowberger and freshman Kendall Berger all contributed.
The team also hopes to benefit from the return of junior Savannah Schneck, who missed the season with a knee injury.
Norwin has raised standards compared to many other programs in 6A. Since 2014, the Lady Knights have reached the semifinals four times and won WPIAL titles in ‘14-15 and ‘15-16.
Those standards won’t change as Brozeski and his assistants, Joe Oesreich and Drew Polczynski, look ahead to next year.
“It’s time to reflect and you ask yourself, ‘Did the girls grow?’” Brozeski said. “Are they better than the product that came in the door when we first started? I think they wanted to do something special. They improved a lot from day one and should be proud of what they accomplished.”
Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .
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