Norwin, GCC girls could draw No. 1 seeds as WPIAL playoff brackets are revealed

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Sunday, February 11, 2024 | 3:09 PM


Brian Brozeski doesn’t wade too far into the waters of bracketology.

The Norwin girls basketball coach would rather look at a playoff bracket as an extension of his team’s schedule. Take it and move on, no questions asked.

“Anything can happen,” Brozeski said. “Look at our boys soccer team. There were the No. 8 seed, and they beat the No. 1 (Seneca Valley) and won a WPIAL championship. It’s the end number that matters, not the beginning one.”

Norwin (18-3) won the Section 1-6A title with a 10-0 record and went 16-0 against WPIAL teams this season. Its losses are to Spring-Ford, Kennedy Catholic and Wheeling Park (W.Va.).

And, with Peters Township (21-1), the Section 2 champion, losing its first game 44-41 to Canon-McMillan on Friday, the question begs: Will Norwin get the No. 1 seed?

The WPIAL will unveil playoff brackets around 2 p.m. Monday.

“It’s not something we’re thinking about,” Brozeski said. “All eight teams (in 6A) have a chance. No matter what your seed is when the (pairings) come out, you better have your pants buckled up and be ready to play. Everybody is a legit contender.”

That includes North Allegheny (19-2), which is expected to draw the No. 3 seed, meaning it could meet Norwin in the semifinals, or finals, depending on Norwin’s 1 or 2 seeding.

Norwin lost to North Allegheny in last year’s semis before making a run to the PIAA final four. The Lady Knights swept the Tigers this year for the first time.

With all due respect to Peters Township, Norwin is considered by many coaches to be the favorite in the largest classification.

One coach said the Lady Knights might be “punished” for playing such a tough nonsection schedule.

“They have everything,” Seneca Valley coach Dorothea Epps said of Norwin. “They are physical, and they are seasoned. They have a great team.”

The local field is set for the playoffs, scheduled to begin later this week. Other girls qualifiers are: Penn-Trafford (14-8) and Latrobe (11-11) in 5A, Greensburg Salem (15-7) and Belle Vernon (10-12) in 4A, Burrell (16-4) and Mt. Pleasant (14-7) in 3A, Greensburg Central Catholic (16-5) in 2A and Monessen (16-5) and Jeannette (8-9) in A.

GCC is likely to get the No. 1 seed in 2A after winning its third straight section title.

Local boys qualifiers are: Franklin Regional (19-2), Penn-Trafford (11-11) and Kiski Area (14-7) in 5A; Belle Vernon (12-7) and Southmoreland (16-6) in 4A; Yough (17-4), Derry (13-6), Mt. Pleasant (8-11) and Burrell (13-5) in 3A; Greensburg Central Catholic (20-2) and Jeannette (14-6) in 2A; and Monessen (17-4) in A.

GCC also could land a top-two seed in 2A. Aliquippa is expected to be the top seed.

GCC lost to Aliquippa in last year’s semifinals.

Franklin Regional, which is experiencing quite a turnaround after missing the playoffs the last two years, also might get a top-three seed in 5A.

The Yough boys won back-to-back section titles for the first time in school history, so a favorable seed could await the Cougars in 3A.

The better-seeded teams will receive home games in the opening round. The remaining rounds will be played at neutral sites, with the finals set for Feb. 29 and March 1-2 at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center.

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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