Westmoreland high school notes: Norwin, GCC girls basketball teams share connections

Thursday, March 16, 2023 | 6:08 PM

Norwin and Greensburg Central Catholic will continue their postseason runs in the PIAA girls basketball tournaments Friday night.

While they play in different classification, the teams share some connections.

First, they will play a quarterfinal doubleheader at Fox Chapel, which will allow local fans to get a look at both teams.

They also will take on WPIAL opponents — WPIAL champions, in fact.

Greensburg Central Catholic (23-5) faces Shenango (24-4) at 6 p.m. in the Class 2A quarterfinals, and Norwin (23-4) meets rival North Allegheny (22-5) for a fourth time this season, in the 6A quarters, at 7:30.

But the ties don’t stop there.

The Lady Knights and Centurions have have not had this level of success in several years. GCC hasn’t reached the quarterfinals since 2011. Norwin has not been this far since 2019.

And both are making North Huntingdon proud as they push farther down the state bracket.

GCC’s “Big 3,” as coach Chris Skatell calls them, are from North Huntingdon. Juniors Mya Morgan and Avery Davis are Norwin transfers, and freshman Erica Gribble comes from a talented crop of sisters who starred at Norwin.

So, the teams also share the 15642 zip code.

Despite playing at different schools, the girls still stay in touch, and even root for one another. They have remained friends.

“Mya and I have been best friends for the longest time,” Norwin junior point guard Bailey Snowberger said. “When we played together in seventh and eighth grade, we were like 100-0. It was me, Ava Kobus, Lauren Palangio and Mya.

“I want to see them do well. I hope both teams can come out of there with wins (Friday).”

Snowberger thinks Norwin has to take care of the small details to get past the Tigers in the teams’ latest clash.

“We have to bring our passion for the game,” Snowberger said. “We have built a family here, and we need to play for each other and be gritty. It needs to be us playing basketball as one.”

Added Morgan: “I have not followed on every (Norwin) game, but I have seen tweets about how well they are doing. I still keep in touch with some of them as well.”

Opening day

Friday marks opening day for baseball and softball in the WPIAL. While field conditions and possible wet weather could force teams into gyms for practice instead of playing games, some teams are headed out of state to play.

Franklin Regional baseball and softball are playing in season-opening tournaments in Orlando, Fla. Each team has three official games.

Local baseball games tentatively scheduled for Friday include Apollo-Ridge at Burrell, Frazier at Monessen, Greensburg Salem at Ligonier Valley, Hempfield at Pine-Richland and Valley at Jeannette.

Softball games that are subject to change are Penn-Trafford at Norwin and Waynesburg at Mt. Pleasant.

Beach life

Belle Vernon softball will host an opening day event with the second annual Mon Valley Independent First Pitch softball showcase.

Five teams will play on the golden turf at James Weir Stadium Friday and Saturday.

The matchups Friday are: Frazier vs. Thomas Jefferson at 2 p.m. and Belle Vernon vs. South Allegheny at 3:30.

On Saturday, it will be Frazier vs. South Allegheny (noon) and Latrobe vs. Belle Vernon (2 p.m.).

Admission is free, but donations will be accepted for Nathan Stanchfield, a Belle Vernon sophomore who is undergoing treatment for leukemia.

Pole position

Hempfield junior Grace Iwig finished third at the Nike Indoor Nationals met at the Armory in New York City.

She jumped a personal-best 11 feet, 8.5 inches in the Emerging Elite Division.

Norwin senior Hannah Shaw, meantime, placed sixth at the Rising Stars division at the New Balance Nationals in Boston, as she cleared 11-5.

Long-distance connection

Norwin has been a gracious playoff host for PIAA basketball playoff games in recent years, and the Knights’ home floor has seen its share of exciting games and shots.

On Tuesday night, Laurel Highlands topped Hampton at Norwin, 57-50, but Hampton guard Brennan Murray had the shot of the game … and year?

Murray fired in a near-full-court shot to beat the third-quarter buzzer. He took an inbound around the opposite elbow — near the volleyball end line — and banked in the baseball heave to a rousing roar from the packed crowd.

Volleyball ranks

The Western Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association revealed its preseason top-10 poll for each WPIAL classification.

Penn-Trafford is ranked No. 4, Norwin is No. 5 and Hempfield is No. 8 in Class 3A.

Latrobe is rated No. 2 in 2A, and Derry checks in at No. 8.

The association pointed out that five teams are competing this season as indepedents in WPIAL territory. They are Mt. Lebanon, Summit Academy, McKeesport, Propel Street Andrew and Aquinas Academy

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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