Norwin girls lead Westmoreland County contingent into playoffs as No. 3 seed

By:
Monday, February 13, 2023 | 8:05 PM


For most of December and even late into January, the Norwin girls looked like the favorite to win WPIAL Class 6A.

The Lady Knights were ranked No. 1 for much of the basketball regular season, but a couple of losses to Upper St. Clair and North Allegheny put a dent in their reputation — so goes life in the largest class — and they dropped a few rungs.

Norwin still might go all the way and bring home a championship, but it won’t do so as the top seed.

It was given No. 3 when the pairings were revealed Monday afternoon.

Throw any number on front of their name; Norwin is raring to chase its first title since 2016.

“When it comes down to it, I don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure out a bracket,” Norwin coach Brian Brozeski said. “We’re focused on one game, and that is the next one. It’s up to us to do our due diligence to prepare and not have a lapse when we play again.”

Norwin (19-3) won’t play until Thursday, Feb. 23 when it hosts Baldwin (9-12) in the quarterfinals of the nine-team bracket where it’s hard to avoid anyone.

It could be another Norwin-North Allegheny matchup in the semifinals. The Tigers, who split the Section 1 title with Norwin, are the No. 2 seed.

The girls’ top seeds are Upper St. Clair (6A), South Fayette (5A), Blackhawk (4A), Shady Side Academy (3A), Shenango (2A) and Union (A).

Boys No. 1s are New Castle (6A), Peters Township (5A), Lincoln Park (4A), Steel Valley (3A), Aliquippa (2A) and Imani Christian (A).

Nine schools from Westmoreland County will have their boys and girls teams in the playoffs.

One is Greensburg Central Catholic, which has No. 4 seeds in both Class 2A brackets.

Higher seeds earned home games in the first round, a practice that began as a result of the pandemic two seasons back. Well, most higher seeds.

GCC planned on playing at home, but its gym did not meet the WPIAL’s specifications, which say a site must comfortably hold 650 people.

Both teams hosted early round games last year but will be on the “road” this time.

The boys (15-5) will take on Propel Braddock Hills (10-12) at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Penn-Trafford.

“Home games are nice, and you get accustomed to it,” GCC boys coach Christian Hyland said. “Two years ago, we were the No. 2 and played on the road, so it doesn’t shock me. We’re just going to roll with the punches.”

The GCC girls (18-4), which some projected as a possible top-three seed, will play California (10-11) at 6 p.m. Friday at Gateway.

The Centurions shared the Section 3 title with Serra Catholic, but the WPIAL favored co-champs from another section more, awarding Shenango and Freedom with top two seeds.

“I thought we could be between a 1 and a 4,” GCC coach Chris Skatell said. “I knew it probably wouldn’t be a 1, but I am a little surprised by the 4. You have to beat them all to get there. “

Weighing pros and cons, Skatell is glad his team will play right away and won’t have to sit a week.

“It’s good to get out and go,” he said.

Yough has both of its teams in the postseason for the first time since 2004-05.

The boys (15-7), winners of 10 games in a row and fresh off their first section title in 18 years, have a Class 3A first-round matchup with visiting Burrell (10-12) at 7 p.m. Monday.

Yough is seeded No. 7.

The Cougars had a watch party to celebrate their postseason appearance.

“We’re trending upward right now,” Yough coach Jim Nesser said. “It feels good that we will be at home. I am happy for the kids. They’re starting to see what they can do.”

The Yough girls (10-11) have a 3A preliminary round game at home Thursday night against Beaver Falls (9-11). The winner gets No. 1 Shady Side Academy.

Monessen also landed a pair of top-six seeds in Class A: The boys (20-2) are No. 6, the girls (15-5) No. 4.

The boys, in the playoffs for a WPIAL-record 42nd straight time, host Western Beaver (10-12) at 7 p.m. Friday. The girls have a bye into the quarterfinals.

Girls 4A features an all-Westmoreland matchup in the opening round with No. 9 Greensburg Salem (14-8) visiting No. 8 Belle Vernon (14-8) at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The Belle Vernon boys (10-11), a potential sleeper at No. 10 in 4A, travel to play a familiar playoff foe, No. 7 Quaker Valley (14-6) at 7 p.m. Monday.

Penn-Trafford’s girls also play an 8-9 game, in 5A. The Warriors (15-6) host Shaler (16-6) at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The Warriors’ boys (7-15), who made a late-season push for make the postseason field, open against top-seeded Peters Township (18-3).

Norwin’s boys (13-8) also earned a No. 8 seed in 6A but also have a daunting opening game at 7 p.m. Feb. 24 at No. 1 New Castle (19-2).

Jeannette’s boys and girls have not been to the postseason together since 2014. The boys (13-7) play at No. 6 Northgate (16-6) at 7 p.m. Tuesday in 2A.

The girls, at 2-19, made the Class A bracket and will be the No. 11 seed when they play Eden Christian (6-14) at 6 p.m. Monday at Peters Township.

The WPIAL finals will be March 2-4 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.

More Basketball

Experienced assistant ready to move into head coaching role with Ligonier Valley boys
Valley turns to prominent basketball alumni to help restore luster to boys, girls programs
Armstrong’s Emma Paul named 2023-24 TribLive HSSN Girls Athlete of the Year
Mt. Pleasant’s Scott Giacobbi retires after 19 seasons coaching girls basketball
Newly hired boys basketball coach Brandon Sensor sees Shaler as ‘right opportunity’