Norwin girls can’t halt North Allegheny’s home winning streak

Thursday, January 26, 2023 | 10:38 PM

Even when it is Norwin coming to town, North Allegheny tries to keep things in proper perspective on its home floor, where the girls basketball team has been virtually unstoppable in recent years.

Just because the next opponents is No. 1 Norwin, a rival and the only team to challenge the Tigers in section play over the last five seasons, the mindset doesn’t change in McCandless.

When North Allegheny is playing at home, take the Tigers. Place your Betz.

“We just play our game,” Tigers’ junior guard Lydia Betz said. “We’re focused on winning (at home or away).”

Betz jump-started the scoring early and finished with a game-high 20 points, and senior Jasmine Timmerson added 17 as No. 4 North Allegheny ran its home winning streak against WPIAL opponents to 61 with a 52-45 victory Thursday night in Section 1-6A.

The new 16-foot scoreboards on each end of the floor at UPMC Court showed plenty of highlights for the Tigers. A regional television broadcast did the same before a rowdy audience.

Still, North Allegheny didn’t pay attention to the “outside noise,” as coach Spencer Stefko said.

“We didn’t make any adjustments,” Stefko said. “Not before the game, not at the half. The kids took over the timeouts. They showed up tonight.

“We don’t worry about that outside noise. It’s rat poison.”

North Allegheny (11-4, 5-1), which has won 7 of 8 since a 53-32 loss to Norwin earlier in the season, is now tied with the Lady Knights (14-2, 5-1) for first place.

Norwin has lost two in a row, the other defeat coming Monday to No. 2 Upper St. Clair, 56-45.

“The girls took the keys after the Norwin loss,” Stefko said. “It’s that simple. There is no magic wand. They didn’t like the result. It’s a nice win for us, but we haven’t played our best game by a long shot. If this is the high point of our season, shame on us.”

North Allegheny, which built a 17-point lead after three quarters before Kendall Berger led a fourth-quarter comeback for Norwin, has not lost a section game to a team other than Norwin since 2017.

The teams have split their section series in four of the last five years.

The Tigers are 57-0 in section against other teams during that time.

“We had a lot of self-inflicted wounds,” Norwin coach Brian Brozeski said. “But that comes with a grain of salt because of the pressure NA puts on you. They make you play fast and give you happy feet.”

After a back-and-forth opening quarter, North Allegheny pulled in front by 10 (23-13) on a 3-pointer from junior Kellie McConnell.

Timmerson, a Pitt commit, then slashed in for a layup, and it was 25-13.

Betz, who made two 3-pointers early and scored 12 in the first half, scored on a break to give the Tigers a 30-18 lead at the half.

Norwin was limited to just three field goals in the third as the Tigers maintained a double-digit advantage.

Berger finished an and-1 for Norwin, but senior Eva Prenatt scored off a feed from Timmerson, and junior Grace Heliger made two free throws to make it 43-26.

In the fourth, Berger found her rhythm, scoring 11 of her 16 points, including Norwin’s last 11.

The Knights had 19 in the fourth after scoring 18 in the first half.

The Tigers managed just one field goal in the final quarter as they ran four-corners and tried to run down the clock.

Timmerson was fouled on a layup and made the foul shot to push it to 48-38.

“Their defense put us in a little standstill,” Brozeski said. “Kendall started to score for us. We don’t try to get it to anyone in particular. That is not our M.O.”

Ava Christopher and Tori Sydeski made 3s for Norwin as the Knights carved the deficit to seven (48-41) with 44.2 seconds to play.

Berger’s and-1 cut it to five.

But free throws kept North Allegheny up by nine before Berger’s final jumper fell just before the buzzer.

“I feel like we did a nice job pressuring them,” Stefko said. “But it wasn’t like they were freaking out and throwing the ball all over the place.

“Norwin is a really good team. They have tough kids and a great coaching staff. They’ll be OK.”

Junior Lauren Palangio finished with eight points for Norwin.

“Sometimes you need that sting of failure to light a fire under your backside,” Brozeski said. “I am looking forward to seeing how we respond.”

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

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