Westmoreland County high school basketball notebook: Future bright for Norwin girls

Tuesday, February 28, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Their loss was less than 20 minutes old and the Norwin girls basketball team was already refocusing on the next game, the next challenge, the next tournament.

“This was a good learning experience for our girls,” Norwin coach Brian Brozeski said. “It was a learning experience for me, too. I’m sure we will learn a lot from the film.”

Norwin, the third seed in the WPIAL Class 6A bracket, fell to rival North Allegheny, 38-36, in the semifinals on Monday night at Fox Chapel.

Norwin (20-4) now faces Mt. Lebanon (17-7) in Wednesday night’s third-place game. Both teams have qualified for the PIAA playoffs. One will be the No. 3 seed from the WPIAL, the other the fourth.

The state playoffs begin March 10.

“We’ll see what the girls want to do from here,” Brozeski said. “Do they want to make another run or wrap it up? I am proud of the strides they made and proud of their growth.”

North Allegheny coach Spencer Stefko, whose team will play for its fifth WPIAL title in seven years Friday night against No. 1 Upper St. Clair, thinks Norwin can make some noise in the state tournament.

“You kidding me? That team is dangerous,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see them make a run with the talent they have.”

Norwin looks to be one of the top WPIAL contenders again next year.

It has only three seniors, and only one of them, Kate Botti, is a starter.

“Don’t remind me,” Stefko said.

The last time

Norwin was the last Westmoreland girls team to win a WPIAL basketball title. The Lady Knights had back-to-back wins in 2015 and ‘16.

Penn-Trafford won in 2014, and Jeannette was a champion in 2010.

Greensburg Central Catholic won titles in 2007, ‘06, ‘03, 1997 and ‘91, while Monessen won in ‘04 and 1995, and Franklin Regional won in 1979 and ‘77.

On the boys’ side, Monessen was the last county champion, in 2017.

The Greyhounds also celebrated titles in 2015, ‘11, ‘02, ‘01, 1995, ’20, and ‘19. Jeannette won in 2008, Valley in ‘93, Norwin in ‘88, ‘86 and ‘63, Latrobe in ‘85, Irwin in ‘54, ‘53 and ‘50, Arnold in ‘42 and New Kensington in ‘34 and ‘30.

Family ties

Could more than one WPIAL championship be coming back to Westmoreland County? How about to one Westmoreland County household?

Talk about a father-daughter dance.

North Catholic’s boys already locked up a spot in the WPIAL Class 4A championship. The Trojans are coached by Jim Rocco, a forensic science teacher at Penn-Trafford and a former boys basketball coach at the school.

His daughter, Alayna, is a junior point guard at North Catholic. The girls team, seeded No. 2 in 4A, was set to play No. 6 Highlands in Tuesday’s semifinals.

Home sweet home

Teams continue to warm up to the WPIAL consolation brackets, which allow quarterfinal losers to play back for spots in the PIAA playoffs.

What many didn’t realize was that they would get more home games.

The Penn-Trafford girls, for instance, earned a home game in the first round and edged past Shaler, 29-28.

The Warriors played Class 5A No. 1 seed Peters Township in the quarterfinals at a neutral site. What’s odd is that Penn-Trafford could have more home playoff games than the top seed.

Penn-Trafford, which is 6-5 at home, hosts Hampton in the seventh-place game Thursday. The winner qualifies for the state bracket and the loser is finished for the season.

Monessen will host Wednesday night, its third straight home playoff game. The Greyhounds are 10-2 at home.

Norwin also gets to play at home in the consolation round. The Lady Knights are 10-0 on their home floor.

Who’s left?

Two county boys teams and two girls teams are still alive for PIAA playoff spots.

Three teams face elimination games Wednesday night. They are the Belle Vernon (4A) and Yough boys (3A) and the Monessen (A) girls. The Penn-Trafford girls play Thursday night in a win-and-in game.

Three county teams have clinched state berths: the Greensburg Central Catholic boys (2A) and the Norwin (6A) and Greensburg Central Catholic girls (2A).

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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