Norwin notebook: Girls basketball team well-stocked for solid 2021-22 season

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Saturday, March 20, 2021 | 10:01 AM


With the WPIAL sending only champions to the PIAA playoffs this year in basketball, local fans only can wonder what might have been for some teams in the state tournaments — the ultimate second chance for teams that were tripped up in the district playoffs.

Take Norwin’s girls.

The Knights reached the WPIAL Class 6A semifinals, and despite injuries to two key players, gave No. 2 seed Upper St. Clair all it could handle in a 33-32 loss.

Next season looks promising for the program, which has made the WPIAL playoffs in 20 straight seasons.

Norwin loses key seniors guards Danielle Rosso and Mara Polczynski but brings back juniors Brianna Zajicek, Maggie Race and Alyssa Laukus, sophomore Savannah Schneck (who missed time with a knee injury) and freshman Lauren Palangio.

“It was a long and strange season, and a lot of us weren’t even sure we would make it this far,” Norwin coach Brian Brozeski said. “You think about how fortunate you are to have reached the end. But at the same time, you wonder about what might have happened in states.”

All-section honors

The Big 5/6 Conference, which recognizes the accomplishments of teams and athletes in the WPIAL’s two largest classifications, announced all-section teams for basketball, and a number of Westmoreland County players made the list.

In Class 6A, Hempfield senior guards Christian Zilli and Michael Hosni, Penn-Trafford senior guard Josh Kapcin and Norwin senior guard Ty Bilinsky and sophomore swingman Adam Bilinsky made the Section 3 first team.

The Big 5/6 gave a special nod to Ty Bilinsky despite the guard missing most of the season because of health issues. He also has been invited to the Roundball Classic all-star event in May.

Norwin junior guard Michael Fleming and senior forward Jayden Walker were honorable mention picks.

For the girls, Section 1-6A selections on the first team were Penn-Trafford junior guard Maura Suman and junior forward Brianna Zajicek and senior guard Danielle Rosso from Norwin.

Norwin senior guard Mara Polczynski was a second-team selection, and sophomore Savannah Schneck made honorable mention.

Altieri second

Norwin senior John Altieri was trying to become the second Knight to win a state wrestling title March 13 in Hershey. Kurtis Phipps was the first Knight to win a title (2020).

Altieri, though, finished second in the state at 145 pounds at the PIAA Class AAA championships.

He faced returning champion Wyatt Henson of Waynesburg in the finals but dropped a 5-3 decision. It was Henson’s third state title second in the PIAA. His first was in Missouri in 2019.

“I’m satisfied. I left it all on the mat,” Altieri said. “I won’t regret how I wrestled. I didn’t back down from him like some wrestlers. It (stinks) getting that close, but I have bigger things planned.”

Altieri tied the score 2-2 when he titled Henson in the second period, but Henson was able to pull out the win.

“That was so cool getting the tilt,” Altieri said. “I was surprised I got it. He’s just a tough wrestler. You achieve what you earned.”

Norwin junior Chase Kranitz finished fifth at 160.

On campus

Grove City junior Joe Astrab (Norwin) was selected to the All-Presidents’ Athletic Conference second team for men’s swimming.

• Freshman basketball guard Jayla Wehner (Norwin) had three assists and two steals off the bench as Marian (27-5) defeated Grand View, 92-69, in the opening round of the NAIA Tournament. The team advanced to the NAIA Final Site on March 18 in Sioux City, Iowa.

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

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