Westmoreland basketball notebook: Norwin family trees grow with playoff success

Thursday, March 14, 2019 | 6:40 PM

Family connections tend to follow successful sports programs at the high school level.

The same last names tend to surface over and again as teams make postseason runs. Family trees branch into playoff trees.

That is the case at Norwin where the girls basketball program has become a perennial power in the state’s largest classification.

A few of this year’s players had sisters on previous playoff teams, including junior guard Olivia Gribble, whose sister, Alayna, is the all-time leading scorer at Norwin. Olivia said she has talked to her sister about what it takes to keep momentum going in the playoffs.

“She does tells me to stay positive and going on to the next play,” Olivia said. “We try to get the best out of possessions. We’re based on ball movement and getting good shots. We even have a ‘one more’ drill where we pass it around and the last girl takes the shot.”

Junior Cassie Cole, a key reserve for the Knights (22-3), who face unbeaten Peters Township (27-0) Friday in the PIAA 6A quarterfinas, is the sister of former standout forward Jenna Cole.

“She tells me to work hard inside,” Cassie said. “To box out and get position to get rebounds.”

Alayna Gribble and Jenna Cole, college juniors now, were catalysts in the Knights’ back-to-back WPIAL titles — Pete and #Re-Pete as T-shirts said referring to the finals at Pitt’s Petersen Events Center.

Alayna Gribble took her playing career to Pitt but decided to cut her career short earlier this season due to concussions. She has been out to watch Norwin play during spring break.

Cole was the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference Player of the Year while playing at La Roche. She led the conference in scoring at 20.1 points per game.

Track meet at KO?

There could be plenty of scoring Friday night at Keystone Oaks when Monessen (17-9) takes on Nazareth Prep (21-3) in the PIAA Class A quarterfinals. They are two of the highest-scoring teams in WPIAL Class A.

Monessen averages 70.8 points, Nazareth Prep 67.1.

Monessen needed a late bank shot from fab freshman Devin Whitlock to get past Bishop Carroll, 63-62, in a back-and-forth second-round game Tuesday at Greensburg Salem.

Four players scored in double figures for Nazareth Prep, the WPIAL champion, in a 67-61 victory over Shade at Hempfield.

“We know Monessen is a tough team and we’re going to have to play well to beat them,” Nazareth Prep coach Nehemiah Brazil said. “They will be a challenge.”

Local games

Hempfield will play host to two more PIAA girls basketball playoff games on Friday night.

Allegheny-Clarion Valley (21-4) of District 9 plays District 5 champion Everett (23-3) at 6 p.m. in a Class 2A quarterfinal. At 7:30, Beaver (19-5) faces District 6’s Central Cambria (19-7) in a 3A quarterfinal.

Everett knows the way to the Spartans Field House. It defeated Bishop Canevin there Tuesday night, 49-42.

On Saturday, Hempfield has a tripleheader: District 5 runner-up Shanksville-Stonycreek (23-5) vs. WPIAL fourth-place Vincentian Academy (14-12) girls at noon; 5-1 Berlin-Brothersvalley (22-5) vs. 7-6 Sewickley Academy (14-8) girls at 1:30 p.m.; and 6-1 Richland (22-6) vs. 7-1 Lincoln Park (24-4) boys at 3 p.m.

Local ties

A couple of players on the Peters Township girls roster have ties to other WPIAL programs.

Sophomore Jordan Bisignani is a cousin of Greensburg Central Catholic boys coach Greg Bisignani.

And senior Isabella Mills is the granddaughter of Cager Classic all-star game founder Glenn Mills of Harrison Township.

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

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