Top-ranked Norwin takes care of Hempfield girls

Monday, January 9, 2023 | 10:01 PM

Her teammates call her “A,” but Norwin’s Ava Kobus could just as well be called, “Spark.”

She would wear the nickname well.

Like she has throughout the season, the junior guard found her rhythm from 3-point range— particularly from the corners — and helped No. 1 Norwin pull away from visiting Hempfield, 53-29, on Monday night in Section 1-6A.

Kobus made a season-high-tying five 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 19 points. She made three corner 3s and had 11 points in a tide-turning third quarter before Norwin held the Spartans to zero field goals and three points in the fourth.

Norwin relies on Kobus to provide more than just high-arcing 3s.

“She’s an offensive spark, and you can see it in her shooting,” Norwin coach Brian Brozeski said. “But she is a defensive spark, too. We know we can put her on the other team’s best player.”

Norwin (11-1, 3-0), which improved to 6-0 at home with its fourth straight win, had trouble gaining separation from Hempfield (7-6, 1-2) in the first half.

The Lady Spartans, who have dropped three of their last four, trailed only 13-11 after the first quarter and 22-18 at the half.

But missed shots piled up, and Norwin took advantage.

“We were 5 for 39 from 2-point (range),” Hempfield coach Tom Brush said. “We were getting shots. We just didn’t make them. There were too many times we gave them multiple opportunities. You can’t do that against the No. 1 team. Norwin is good, but we’re better than 29 points.”

In the third, after Hempfield’s Brooke McCoy made a 3-pointer to cut it to 24-21, Kobus connected from deep to key an 11-0 run.

She accounted for nine points during the run as she knocked in two more 3s.

Kobus, who has a college offer from Division II Mansfield, had three 3s in the second quarter Jan. 3 to spark Norwin to a 53-32 win over North Allegheny.

Norwin is allowing just 31.8 points a game because it has players who put a defensive mentality over scoring. The scoring happens as a result and is not as labor intensive.

“I like to shoot from the corners because my miss is usually long, and the corners are the farthest point to shoot from,” Kobus said. “An AAU coach told me if you if you hit the front of the rim, you’re not going to make many shots.

“I work to make sure I am as good offensively as I am defensively. The game is two-sided.”

Mia Shipman’s basket stopped the surge for Hempfield, but Kobus responded with a mid-range jumper to make it 37-23.

Center Lauren Palangio soon followed with a putback for a 40-24 advantage with just more than a minute to play in the third.

Norwin outscored the Spartans in the quarter 18-8.

Hempfield was held to just three free throws in the fourth as Norwin went on a 13-3 run.

Palangio, who had 10 points, opened the final quarter with a driving layup, and Bailey Snowberger soon added one of her own as Norwin pushed the margin to 20.

Norwin again showed its depth. The Knights played 10 girls in the first half and 11 total.

Kendall Berger added seven points in the win.

McCoy led Hempfield with nine, and Ashley Hosni chipped in seven.

“Hempfield played hard,” Brozeski said. “We were able to play with some depth and keep the lineup fresh into the fourth quarter.”

Bill Beckner Jr. is a TribLive reporter covering local sports in Westmoreland County. He can be reached at

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