Westmoreland County girls basketball notebook: Norwin winning with stingy defense

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Wednesday, December 14, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Norwin takes more pride in the other team’s score than its own these days.

Sure, the Lady Knights care plenty about offense, but it has been their defense that has propelled them to a 5-0 start.

Norwin has yet to allow more than 28 points in a game.

The only undefeated team in WPIAL Class 6A, it has a minuscule 25.4-point defensive average.

What is driving the staunch unit? What else? Man-to-man defensive pressure that induces turnovers, keys fast breaks and leads to offensive chances.

A sprinkle of matchup-zone pressure is a nice complement.

“We diversify what we do defensively,” Norwin coach Brian Brozeski said. “We want our girls to play their role well. We like to run, so depth is important. We want to run that fresh rotation through.”

Norwin has become known not only for its defensive hustle but also its generous substituting. It’s not uncommon for Brozeski to swap out five for five midway through a quarter.

“Hopefully we’ll continue to trend in the right direction,” Brozeski said. “Being 5-0 is nice, but it’s early. We’d rather win our last five games than our first five.”

Section time

WPIAL section play will tip off for some teams Thursday night.

A Westmoreland County matchup features Derry at Greensburg Salem in Section 1-4A. The schools’ boys teams will play at 7:30.

Other section openers include Franklin Regional at Woodland Hills in Section 2-5A, Connellsville at Penn-Trafford (3-5A), Latrobe at Oakland Catholic (3-5A) and Belle Vernon at West Mifflin (3-4A).

Warrior Run

With Latrobe banged up, could Penn-Trafford be the next county team in line to challenge for the Section 3-5A title?

McKeesport and Oakland Catholic also are considered frontrunners.

The Warriors have won three straight and sit 5-1 as they prepare to open section play.

They defeated Penn Hills (51-42) and Woodland Hills (58-39) in consecutive games and only lost to Norwin by 10 (48-38).

Penn-Trafford has a young rotation. There are only two seniors on the team in Kylee Piconi and Lilly Palladino.

Junior Olivia Pepple has been the leading scorer in several games. She had 20 points against Woodland Hills. Also in that game, sophomore Lauren Marton scored a career-high 19 points.

Sophomore Kamryn Pieper (5-11) and freshman Tori DeStefano also have had a significant impact.

Golden Lions’ D

Greensburg Salem has been one of the top defensive teams in the WPIAL through four games.

The Golden Lions (4-1) are allowing just 29.6 points, the lowest number in Class 4A. The catalyst has been full-court pressure, something coach Rick Klimchock has employed in recent seasons.

“The kids like to press,” Klimchock said.

Greensburg Salem gave up 49 points to crosstown foe Greensburg Central Catholic, but held Mt. Pleasant (57-20), Ringgold (60-29), Southmoreland (61-19) and South Allegheny (54-31) in check.

Meeting of the minds

Derry and Greensburg Salem will match longtime basketball coaches from the county.

Derry coach Gene Brisbane and Klimchock have an 782 career wins between them at various stops.

Brisbane, who has 355 of his 405 wins coaching at the high school level, including 327 in 20 years at Hempfield, is in his fourth season at Derry.

He also coached the Jeannette and Greensburg Salem boys and the Westmoreland County Community College women.

Klimchock has 377 wins, 243 of which came with the Jeannette boys. He also spent time with the Franklin Regional girls.

Brisbane and Klimchock first coached against each other as boys junior varsity coaches in 1978, Brisbane at Hempfield and Klimchock at Greensburg Central Catholic.

“We were both working the refs,” Klimchock said. “We still are.”

At that time, Tom Traynor was the head coach at Hempfield and Jim Farrell led GCC.

Bob Kalp, Hempfield’s longtime softball coach, as an assistant for the Spartans. The late Jim Stewart was an assistant with GCC.

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

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