Trib HSSN girls basketball team of the week for Jan. 29, 2023

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Sunday, January 29, 2023 | 11:08 PM


Since coming to North Allegheny prior to the 2017 season as the girls basketball coach, Spencer Stefko and his Tigers have won…a lot.

In his seven years in black and gold, NA has won four WPIAL championships, one PIAA title and has been district runner-up twice.

The North Allegheny girls hoops team rarely loses on the road, but the Tigers never fail at home.

Now with fancy new video replay scoreboards in each end zone to make everybody feel at home, the Tigers improved to 7-1 on their home court last week and extended their winning streak at home against WPIAL opponents to 61 in a row.

“I wish I knew why,” Stefko said. “There’s a level of engagement there. They want to own that special piece of something that’s bigger than themselves.”

Win No. 61 at home was an impressive one Thursday. North Allegheny knocked off previously top-ranked Norwin, 52-45, to force a tie for first place with the Knights in Section 1-6A.

So what changed in the 23 days since the two teams met at Norwin and the Knights cruised past NA, 53-32.

“Our energy,” North Allegheny junior Kellie McConnell said. “We came out, right out of the gates and pressured them and forced turnovers. We had a ton of energy and wanted to get back at them for what happened at Norwin earlier this year.”

NA senior Jasmine Timmerson said the team still felt the sting from the first meeting with the Knights.

“We definitely didn’t like the way that felt,” she said. “Coming into the last (meeting), we just did what we had to do and brought a higher level of energy to the table.”

Timmerson, who went over 1,000 points for her career two weeks ago, scored 17 points for the Tigers while senior teammate Lydia Betz led all scorers with 20 points.

This has been a strange season for North Allegheny.

The Tigers are 11-4, they have won three straight and seven of their last eight games and they are tied for first place with a section record of 5-1.

However for the first time in nearly a decade, the Tigers don’t have the biggest bullseye in Class 6A.

Norwin had been ranked No. 1 in the district for most of the season and had a spot in the 6A state rankings.

Now a different species has become the top cat in 6A as the Section 2 leading Upper St. Clair Panthers have taken over the top spot in the HSSN district rankings and now have a spot in the PIAA rankings.

So what’s it like for NA doing the hunting instead of being the hunted?

“I think we kind of like, I don’t want to say the underdog, but the attention is kind of off us,” McConnell said. “I think it just lets us worry about ourselves and how we can get better so we can get back to where we want to go.”

Timmerson agrees.

“We can focus on what we need to do to get to that top spot at the end of the season because what happens now isn’t going to determine what happens at the end of our season and the goals we want to reach,” she said.

Stefko likes his team and thinks they are good without the giant target past Tigers teams dealt with.

“It comes down to the kids you have,” he said. “I like it for this group. It fits this group. I would imagine some kids with some other (programs) might have trouble making that transition. From our standpoint, St. Clair is the top dog because they’ve earned it and their resume says so. We don’t have that resume yet.”

2023 Trib HSSN Girls Basketball Teams of the Week

Week 3 – Oakland Catholic Eagles

Week 2 – Blackhawk Cougars

Week 1 – Shady Side Academy Bulldogs

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