Norwin girls roll past North Allegheny, into PIAA semifinals

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Friday, March 17, 2023 | 10:36 PM


When North Allegheny junior Caroline Henderson banked in a half-court shot to end the third quarter, Norwin coach Brian Brozeski told his team not to worry.

That’s because Brozeski’s Knights were not to be deterred on this night.

Norwin became more determined and didn’t allow another basket in the final eight minutes and pulled away for an impressive 50-30 victory against the WPIAL Class 6A champions Friday in the PIAA quarterfinals at Fox Chapel.

The Knights (24-4) will face District 3 champion Cedar Cliff, which defeated Upper St. Clair, 39-22, on Monday at a site and time to be determined.

It was the fourth time this season that Norwin and North Allegheny played. Norwin won the first meeting and North Allegheny the next two, including a 38-36 come-from-behind win in the WPIAL semifinals.

But the Knights weren’t about to let the Tigers come back this time.

“We knew that feeling from the last game, and we didn’t want that feeling again,” Norwin sophomore Kendall Berger said. “There were a lot of people here watching us, and we didn’t want to let them down. After they hit that 3-pointer at the end of the quarter, we didn’t want them to score again. Our defense was outstanding.”

A rare four-point play by Berger (3-pointer and free throw) and a 3-pointer by junior Ava Kobus helped Norwin jump out to a 42-26 lead with 4 minutes, 17 seconds left.

“Our strength and conditioning coach gave us some good quotes to keep our minds focused for the entire game,” Brozeski said. “We dedicated this game to coach (Ted) Jasko. We appreciate what he does for us in the weight room in the offseason.

“This has to be one of our better wins we’ve ever had. Our biggest battle is getting the players’ minds right for Cedar Cliff.”

Norwin’s defense and rebounding were big reasons for the win. North Allegheny was 5 for 24 from beyond the arc and 8 of 40 (20%) for the game, and the Knights outrebounded the Tigers, 37-21.

Berger led the Knights with 18 points, Kobus had 12 — including nine in the second half — and Lauren Palangio had 10 points and 12 rebounds.

“All credit goes to Norwin,” North Allegheny coach Spencer Stefko said. “They played an outstanding game. They are good, they are talented, they are tough and are well coached. When you get a beating like we just did and you want to look at what went wrong and blame somebody. I want to blame those kids from Norwin.”

Norwin got a basket from Berger and a 3-pointer by Avery Brozeski at the end of the first quarter to grab a 12-8 lead. The lead, thanks to six points from Berger, expanded to 21-13 by halftime.

North Allegheny (22-6) came out hot in the third quarter on 3-pointers by Henderson and Lyida Betz to trim the lead to 22-19, but the Knights calmed down and used a 6-0 run to push the lead back to 33-22 before Henderson’s buzzer shot closed the gap to 33-25.

“It would have been nice if we were cutting it down closer,” Stefko said. “But it wasn’t meant to be. The kids played hard and did everything I asked of them. I just didn’t coach them well enough.”

Norwin’s defense shut down North Allegheny senior Jasmine Timmerson, especially in the second half. She scored 10 points but only one in the second half.

Kobus and Ava Christopher shared the defensive duties on Timmerson. Betz led the Tigers with 12 points.

“Jasmine is a phenomenal player and great athlete,” Brozeski said. “We did a nice job on her. Whoever was responsible was able to make her job difficult.”

Brozeski said he doesn’t know much about Cedar Cliff, so he’s going to have a sleepless night trying to find out information about them.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at pschofield@triblive.com.

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