Norwin girls top Penn-Trafford to remain undefeated

Tuesday, December 6, 2022 | 8:58 PM

Tori Sydeski is often the last girl out of the gym at Norwin basketball practices.

“I don’t count how many shots. I just like to end on a make,” the senior guard said.

Sydeski didn’t light up the scoreboard — no one did in this game — but the Knights’ sixth girl gave her team a spark off the bench in a grind-it-out nonsection win that kept Norwin undefeated.

Norwin, ranked No. 4 in Class 6A, finally pulled away late for a 38-28 victory over 5A Penn-Trafford on Tuesday night in Harrison City.

“I am glad how I showed up to play,” Sydeski said. “We know how much of a rivalry this is.”

Nobody from Norwin (3-0) scored in double figures, but Sydeski scored nine points and Kendall Berger added eight.

Sydeski’s scoring came on three 3-pointers.

Penn-Trafford (2-1) got a game-high 15 points from Olivia Pepple, who overcame a foot injury she discovered during warmups in the team’s last game.

Pepple came off the bench but did not get much help offensively.

Norwin built a 29-22 lead after three quarters, but Pepple cut it to 31-25 with a 3 early in the fourth.

Bailey Snowberger delivered a 3, Lauren Palangio made a free throw and Kendall Williams scored off a steal as Norwin stretched the lead to 37-25 with 1 minute, 11 seconds to play.

“These games toughen the girls more mentally than anything,” Norwin coach Brian Brozeski said. “A lot of our girls are learning about the rivalry mentality. These games make you sharper. As the year goes on, you want them to get sharper.”

Both teams were sluggish from the onset. Case in point: It was a 7-7 game 17 minutes in.

“It was a hockey score after the first quarter,” Brozeski said of the 4-3 on the scoreboard. “That lid on the basket was pretty tight.”

But Norwin picked up a spark from Sydeski, who made a pair of 3-pointers, the second to give the Knights a 13-11 lead.

“The spark she gave us was huge,” Brozeski said.

Penn-Trafford’s last lead came at 9-7 on a fast-break layup by Pepple.

“We rushed some things with our sets,” Penn-Trafford coach John Giannikas said. “Both teams played really good defense. There were times we were a little careless with the ball.”

Norwin’s press forced the Warriors into miscues and afforded them offensive chances — the few clean ones they got in the opening half.

“We did a nice job with the tempo changes,” Brozeski said.

Kendall Berger had six points in the second quarter to take the Knights to a 16-13 halftime lead.

Penn-Trafford had only four scorers.

“We have been balanced through the first few games,” Giannikas said. “We need to get more scoring. It wasn’t for a lack of effort; the shots weren’t falling.”

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

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