Top-ranked Norwin girls shut down North Allegheny in section opener

Tuesday, January 3, 2023 | 10:02 PM

Last January, Norwin stunned then-No. 1 North Allegheny to snap the Tigers’ 33-game section winning streak.

The Tigers could not return the favor this time, with Norwin now the top-ranked team in WPIAL Class 6A girls basketball.

The Knights simply wouldn’t have it in their first game of 2023.

Behind balanced scoring and suffocating team defense that thrived in the second half, No. 1 Norwin took care of the visiting Tigers, 53-32, in Tuesday night’s Section 1 opener in North Huntingdon.

Norwin moved into the state rankings this week, and a win like this showed why they’re so highly regarded.

“We’re always unselfish, and we’re playing with a lot of confidence,” sophomore guard Kendall Berger said. “We’re willing to make one more pass to get good shots.”

Berger and junior guard Ava Kobus had 14 points each, and junior center Lauren Palangio added 11 for Norwin (9-1, 1-0), which is allowing just 32 points a game.

Perennial power North Allegheny (4-3, 0-1), ranked No. 3 coming in, had just one field goal in the third quarter and went nearly 10 minutes without a basket that wasn’t a free throw.

“Our defense has been good, but we actually gave up 19 points (in the first half) and our offense came through for us when we needed it,” Norwin coach Brian Brozeski said. “We weren’t overly strong on one side or the other, but the two balanced out.”

Norwin outscored North Allegheny, 20-6, in the second quarter to build a 30-19 advantage by halftime.

Kobus found her shooting touch in the second as she hit three of her game-high four 3-pointers, including back-to-back makes, one from each corner, to make it 28-19.

Her offensive spark seemed to set the Knights in motion.

Out of the break, Norwin maintained a double-digit advantage despite scoring only nine points in the third.

Palangio scored two quick baskets early, and junior point guard Bailey Snowberger made a reverse layup in traffic before Berger’s three-point play made it 39-21.

North Allegheny senior Jasmine Timmerson, a Pitt commit, finally scored with 23 seconds left in the quarter for the Tigers’ first field goal since late in the second.

Timmerson finished with 20 points but had little help, a testament to Norwin’s defense.

After four players scored in the first quarter, only two had points the rest of the game.

“We knew we weren’t going to hold her to zero,” Berger said of Timmerson, “but we wanted to make sure we contested her shots.”

After Timmerson, who had 12 of her team’s 13 second-half points, hit a 3 to cut it to 43-32, Norwin showed its ability to make extra passes.

Palangio scored on a soft lob from senior forward Kate Botti, and Snowberger finished off a pass from Berger for a 49-32 lead.

“It’s always tough when we play NA,” Brozeski said. “It’s not quite Steelers-Browns or Steelers-Ravens, but you know you’re going to have to work, and it’s going to be a hard-fought game.”

Norwin made 14 of 18 free throws, including 8 of 10 in the fourth.

Oddly, the game was just the second for North Allegheny against a WPIAL opponent all season.

The Tigers just returned from the KSA Holiday Tournament in Kissimmee, Fla.

Norwin and North Allegheny were the final two teams to open Section 1 play.

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

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