Westmoreland County girls basketball notes: Upset win gives Penn-Trafford momentum

Wednesday, February 5, 2020 | 5:05 PM

If Penn-Trafford needed momentum heading into its section finale Thursday — a section finale at Latrobe that will decide the final playoff spot in Section 3-5A — then the Warriors found it in a head-turning upset.

The Class 5A Warriors stunned Class 6A No. 3 and archrival Norwin, 51-50, Monday night in a nonsection game.

Norwin is known for its defensive pressure and depth, but Penn-Trafford negotiated both well on its home floor.

The Warriors (13-7) have been in a number of close games but have not been able to clear the final hurdle in most of them. They have single-digit losses to Oakland Catholic (43-42), Latrobe (44-41) and Woodland Hills (55-54).

They also, however, upset then-5A-No. 2 Gateway, 59-58, early in the season.

“We’ve been in tight games all year against really good teams,” Penn-Trafford coach John Giannikas said. “I was happy for the kids that they earned a good win. I thought we handled Norwin’s pressure as best we could. They are relentless with it, so we knew if we had too many turnovers we would not have a chance to win the game.”

Depth also played a key part in the upset.

Senior Bella Long (13 points), sophomore Maura Suman (13), junior Kenzie Powell (11) and junior Allie Prady (10) all scored in double figures, but role players and reserves made a big difference, “especially on the defensive end,” Giannikas said. That unit includes freshmen Maddie Setzanfand and Kylee Piconi, junior Brooke Cleland and senior Morgan Hilty.

“The players’ confidence has been good all year,” Giannikas said, “and we have to hope this carries over to Latrobe ‘cause it’s an elimination game. I love the way we have competed all year.”

Norwin took a 24-23 lead into halftime, but the Warriors won the second half, holding the Knights to nine fourth-quarter points.

“You have to have confidence to compete with a team like Norwin,” Giannikas said. “They have a great staff and are well coached, play every possession like it’s the last one of the game, they can shoot it as good or better than anybody, and they have tough kids. They will be a big player in the 6A playoffs.”

Norwin (16-4) looks at the loss as a lesson learned.

“P-T is always a hard-fought game,” Norwin coach Brian Brozeski said. “You can throw out records in rivalry games and know it will be a battle from tip to final buzzer, as was the case on Monday night. P-T did a great job of being physical and utilizing their strength on both sides of the court. As always, there are plenty of coachable moments — some good, some bad — that we all can learn from.

“The biggest thing we will take from the game is the experience of having to perform in pressure situations in an opposing team’s venue. … Learning how to perform in close games and becoming comfortable in that environment is a quality experience.”

Playoff picture

Penn-Trafford (13-7, 7-6 Section 3-5A) at Latrobe (11-8, 7-6) Thursday night will determine the final local WPIAL playoff berth.

The rest of the area field is set.

Other Westmoreland teams headed to the postseason are: Norwin (16-4) in Class 6A; Southmoreland (20-0) and Belle Vernon (15-6) in 4A; Derry (13-8) in 3A; and Greensburg Central Catholic (13-5) and Monessen (12-7) in Class A.

The WPIAL will announce playoff matchups Tuesday in Green Tree. The playoffs are scheduled to begin Feb. 14.

Kuhns to play

Sophomore forward Bailey Kuhns, who left Southmoreland for Greensburg Central Catholic, could play in the Centurions’ final three games of the regular season.

Kuhns, one of the better players on unbeaten Southmoreland’s roster, was ruled ineligible for the playoffs but has been practicing with GCC. Coach Sam Salih said he planned to play Kuhns on Wednesday night at home against East Allegheny, again Friday at Clairton and at Monessen on Monday.

Kuhns averaged 10.7 points and 7.4 rebounds as a freshman at Southmoreland.

Quiet upset

A game that few are talking about but probably deserves more attention is Greensburg Salem’s 47-41 upset of Indiana (13-8), a playoff team in Section 1-4A. Indiana trounced the Golden Lions when the teams met in early January, 56-17.

Not only did the Golden Lions (8-12) put up 18 points in the fourth quarter to win on the road, but their star sophomore, Abby Mankins, scored 27 points — the same total Indians standouts Eve Fiala and Hope Cook had combined. Fiala is a 6-foot-3 freshman who is considered a Division I prospect.

Bill Beckner Jr. is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Bill by email at bbeckner@tribweb.com or via Twitter .

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