Norwin notebook: Girls basketball team makes statement with win over North Allegheny

Saturday, February 5, 2022 | 11:01 AM

It was a head-turning win if there ever was one.

The Norwin girls basketball team dismantled No. 1 North Allegheny, 56-31, on Jan. 27 to move into a first-place tie with the Tigers in Section 1-6A.

North Allegheny was undefeated at the time (15-0) and had won 33 straight section games and 25 in a row overall.

The two-time defending WPIAL champions struggled to get open shots against Norwin’s defense, which has been one of the best in the WPIAL.

Norwin, which moved to 12-4 and 9-1 with the win, made nine 3-pointers — six in the first half when it built a 30-17 lead. It pushed the margin to 28 in the fourth quarter.

Senior Maggie Race scored the first eight points of the game and finished with a game-high 13 points. Seniors Alyssa Laukus and Chloe Lukondi had 11 and 10.

“That is a great team,” North Allegheny coach Spencer Stefko said. “They beat is in every facet of the game.”

Sophomore forward Lauren Palangio added nine points and 10 rebounds.

“When shots start to go in, you keep shooting,” Palangio said. “It’s a huge win for us, but we can’t let it be our best performance of the season.”

Norwin coach Brian Brozeski also stopped short of throwing a party after the win.

“We caught (North Allegheny) on an off night,” Brozeski said. “There is a lot of season left. You’re never as good as your best game and you’re never as bad as your worst loss. We have to keep working.”

Race said it will continue to take team efforts like that one to extend the season in the playoffs.

“When things aren’t going well and shots aren’t falling, we have the ability to rely on each other,” Race said. “We have a lot of confidence in each other shooting-wise.”

Tough schedule

Lance Maha didn’t have any input in this year’s boys basketball schedule at Norwin, but the first-year coach appreciates the slate of nonsection games.

He thinks it is making the Knights stronger as they push for a WPIAL 6A playoff spot.

Norwin (6-8) was tied with 5A No. 1 Laurel Highlands with about three minutes left before falling, 70-59.

The Knights beat a good 6A team, Butler, 69-61.

Butler knocked off Norwin in the first round of the playoffs last year, 59-46. There was an open tournament last year because of uneven standings and covid issues so any team could participate.

Norwin wants to get in on merit this season.

“We have shown flashes all year in games of how good we can be and some things we can do,” Maha said. “We’ve played as tough a schedule as anyone in the WPIAL. That has made us better. I like playing teams with different styles so we’ve seen a lot of different ways to play and how to prepare for them.”

Knights make team playoffs

The Norwin wrestling team finished third at the Section 2-2B tournament to advance to the WPIAL Class 3A playoffs.

The Knights were scheduled to take on Franklin Regional on Feb. 2 at Waynesburg Central.

The winner moved on to face either Thomas Jefferson or top-seeded Waynesburg Central in the quarterfinals.

At the sectional, Norwin lost to Connellsville, 43-19, in the semifinals after defeating Thomas Jefferson, 58-18.

Smith No. 1

Norwin football player Xander Smith of Norwin is now the No. 1-ranked long snapper in Pennsylvania for the Class of 2024 and is ranked No. 16 in the nation by Kohl’s Kicking Camps.

Smith, a junior, now has a 4.5-star rating. At the recent Kohl’s Underclassmen Challenge, he tested out ninth overall with a snap of seven-tenths of a second.

College scene

Checking in on Norwin athletes competing at the college level:

Women’s basketball

Marietta: Sopholmore guard Olivia Gribble had 11 points, including three 3-pointers, to pace Marietta (16-3) to a 70-55 win against Otterbein. It was Gribble’s 11th game with double-digit points this season.

Westminster: Senior Magen Polczynski had a game-high 20 points to lead Westminster to a 75-38 win over Thiel. She had 12 points and three steals when the Titans (10-7, 7-4 PAC) lost to Geneva, 75-73.


Bucknell: Sophomore 133-pounder Kurt Phipps used 3 minutes, 6 seconds of riding time to post a 5-0 win in the Bison’s 21-12 loss to Army, which snapped their seven-match win streak. Phipps was 12-2 in dual matches.

Thiel: Sophomore Frank Gill won by fall at 174 pounds as Thiel moved to 7-0 (2-0 PAC) with a 42-6 win over Waynesburg.

Men’s swimming

Grove City: Senior Joe Astrab won the 200-yard individual medley in 2:04.64 during a 180-116 victory over Westminster in a PAC dual meet.

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


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