Norwin girls easily drop No. 1 North Allegheny

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Thursday, January 27, 2022 | 10:26 PM


Norwin had a “purple out” Thursday night as part of a fundraiser.

The girls basketball team was seeing red from the opening tip.

Fourth-ranked Norwin started fast and never loosened its grip, leaving a trail of nine 3-pointers in its wake on the way to beating the No. 1 out of North Allegheny.

Visiting North Allegheny’s streak of 33 consecutive section wins — and 25-game overall string of victories — is gone after a 56-31 loss to Norwin in Section 1-6A.

And it wasn’t that close.

“That team is 50 points better than us right now,” North Allegheny coach Spencer Stefko said. “They did anything they wanted. They out-offensed us, they out-defensed us, they out-coached us, they out-worked us.”

Playing an inspired, team game built around perimeter shooting, balanced scoring and an impenetrable defense, Norwin (12-4, 9-1) avenged an earlier loss and buried the two-time defending WPIAL and returning PIAA champion Tigers (15-1, 9-1), whose last defeat in section was before covid — a 63-55 setback at Norwin on Jan. 2, 2020.

The Tigers were ranked No. 1 in the WPIAL and state.

Now, the teams are tied for first. Both have clinched playoff berths so don’t discount a third meeting. It’s happened before.

“I am excited for our girls to have a quality-win moment,” Norwin coach Brian Brozeski said. “I feel good for them.”

People saw Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement coming. But this? No way.

The Tigers hadn’t lost since Feb. 20, 2021 when Trinity won 59-56. That was the team’s only defeat during a 27-1 season that included a state title.

But this night belonged to Norwin, which humbly will take a four-game winning streak and run with it.

“We have been waiting for this and preparing for this for a while,” sophomore Lauren Palangio said. “We finally put it all together as a team.”

The Lady Knights came in with the best defensive scoring average in 6A at 33.7 points a game.

Senior Maggie Race was driving the pace car for Norwin as she scored eight straight points to open the game.

It was 11-0 before North Allegheny scored with 2 minutes, 59 seconds left in the opening quarter.

The advantage grew to 20-7 after the first and 30-17 at the half as the Knights bombed away for six first-half 3s.

Race finished with a game-high 13 points, senior Alyssa Laukus added 11, senior Chloe Lukondi 10 and Palangio nine.

“The last time we played them one of our coaches … locker room talk … told us we didn’t play to our full potential,” Race said. “Tonight, we did. It’s so surreal.”

After a slow third that saw Laukus and Palangio make emphatic blocks on the way to holding the Tigers to one field goal and three points, Norwin hit the gas again in the fourth, using a 13-1 run to stretch the margin to 46-20.

“You have to go out on the court with the mindset you’re going to win this game,” Brozeski said. “The girls went in and battled their hearts out. On any night, anything can happen.”

Sophomore Ava Kobus, Lukondi and Race made 3s and Palangio, who was a force on the offensive glass, put back a miss before Race’s layup swelled the lead to 54-26.

Race made three 3-pointers, and Lukondi and senior Brianna Zajicek had two apiece.

“This is an accurate snapshot of where we are right now,” Stefko said. “(Norwin) got good shots because we allowed them to get good shots. We didn’t defend them at all.”

Earlier in the season, North Allegheny edged the Knights, 46-43, on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by junior Jasmine Timmerson, a Pitt commit.

Timmerson was held to seven points in the rematch. Senior Taylor Rawls scored a team-high eight.

The fundraiser was for Father John Moineau, the pastor at the Immaculate Conception parish in Irwin, who is battling pancreatic cancer.

Moineau told the crowd before the game he plans to donate all proceeds to the school’s Andrew’s Avengers program.

The teams gathered in a circle for a pregame prayer.

“It was great for Father John,” Brozeski said. “It was great for our community. That is what high school sports should be about: community. Not getting scholarships and winning. This was a great community moment.”

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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