Undefeated Norwin girls shut down undermanned Latrobe

Monday, December 12, 2022 | 10:10 PM

Norwin played lockdown defense on another opponent, only that opponent looked quite different than the one the Knights expected to see Monday night.

Norwin ran away with a 59-21 nonsection girls basketball victory at Latrobe, but the host Wildcats were missing their centerpiece: 6-foot-1 standout Emma Blair.

The Knights (5-0) took full advantage to remain the only undefeated team in Class 6A.

Blair, a South Carolina Upstate commit and the reigning Trib Westmoreland Player of the Year, injured her knee in the opening game of the She Got Game Classic over the weekend in Virginia.

Latrobe (4-2) played its second straight game without her.

Blair, who had been averaging 19 points and had a 29-point, 14-rebound game earlier this season, was on crutches at Monday’s game. She said she will not know the severity of her injury until MRI results come back later in the week.

“We only found out (about Blair) a few minutes after we got here,” Norwin coach Brian Brozeski said. “It’s unfortunate. This game is not indicative … We got some shots to fall, and they were down some girls.”

Norwin came in ranked No. 4 in 6A, and Latrobe had the same ranking in 5A.

“I thought we battled in the first half,” Latrobe coach Mark Burkhardt said. “Offensively, we were getting good looks. But as good as the first half was, the second half was that much worse.”

Latrobe already was without junior point guard Elle Snyder, who has not played this year after suffering an ankle injury in volleyball season.

She is expected to come back, but the team is unsure when.

With two key players down, Latrobe was a much different team.

The Wildcats returned from Virginia on Sunday, so it did not have a practice without Blair.

“We have to shift people around,” Burkhardt said. “We have girls playing who never had varsity time before. We’re hoping to hold it together with the girls we have.”

Norwin, meantime, was its usual self. It has held every opponent to 28 or fewer points.

A suffocating defense, coupled with spot-on outside shooting, helped the Knights blow the game open with a 25-0 second-half run that saw them hold Latrobe scoreless in the third quarter.

The Knights made 11 3-pointers.

Junior Ava Kobus had a career night for Norwin, connecting on five 3-pointers for 17 points. All of her scoring came in the second and third quarters.

“When we saw (Blair) was not playing, it motivated us even more,” Kobus said. “We still had to keep up our intensity and not take them lightly.”

Brozeski said his players score in the flow of the game, with no concerted effort to get anyone touches.

“On any given night, any of our girls can have the hot hand,” the coach said. “Tonight, it was Ava. Against (Penn-Trafford) it was Tori (Sydeski). Against (Mt.) Lebo, it was (Kendall) Berger’s night.”

Berger, a sophomore, had all 11 of her points in the first quarter when Norwin took a 17-6 lead.

Junior center Lauren Palangio added 10 points for the Knights, who led 29-16 at halftime before blitzing the host team to take a 50-16 lead after three quarters and flip on the mercy rule.

With Blair out, Latrobe moved senior Camille Dominick to center. But Norwin collapsed on her repeatedly and held the Pitt-Johnstown commit to three points.

Norwin subbed frequently to keep legs fresh and force Latrobe to run with it.

Sophomore Carley Burk led Latrobe with eight points.

The Wildcats did not make a 3-pointer.

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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