WPIAL champion Norwin girls ‘refused to be outworked’ on title run

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Saturday, March 2, 2024 | 3:43 PM


Songs, desserts, family.

They all came up in conversation during a postgame news conference Friday night at Petersen Events Center as coach Brian Brozeski and eight of his Norwin girls basketball player shared some playful banter with reporters.

It was a light and telling session with the newly crowned WPIAL Class 6A champions, who took down defending champion North Allegheny, 56-41, for their first district title since 2016 and third overall.

Brozeski compared his stalwart of a team to a well-made dessert: just the right ingredients in a mixture that includes spot-on guard play, size, defense and a team-first mentality.

“The perfect recipe,” he said.

Senior point guard Bailey Snowberger shared examples of the top-seeded team’s closeness by comparing it to a song: “Lean on Me,” a classic by Bill Withers.

“We lean on each other,” Snowberger said. “Don’t try to do too much. Just be you.”

Add that to “Unwritten,” by Natasha Bedingfield, another tune the Lady Knights have grown to like, and “It’s like a movie (soundtrack),” Brozeski said.

Norwin’s greatest hits will include the latest title, which came against one the team’s top rivals. The balance of power in the matchup is now squarely in Norwin’s court.

Norwin (21-3) is 2-0 against North Allegheny in title games and improved to 4-3 in the postseason against the Tigers. The Knights are 3-0 against them this season.

“I don’t know if it was the pendulum swinging our way, but it shows that we refused to be outworked,” Snowberger said. “It came down to quality players who are dedicated and won’t be overlooked.”

Senior Lauren Palangio took control on the low block, scoring 12 points, pulling down 15 rebounds and blocking five shots in the final.

Sophomore guard Ava Christopher continued to trend upward with a game-high 16 points.

Those girls seemed genuinely surprised to hear about those stats after the game.

“No one is selfish on this team,” Brozeski said. “That’s why they’re all sitting up here with gold medals around their necks.”

North Allegheny coach Spencer Stefko, gracious in defeat, was bubbling over with respect for Norwin.

“Coach Brozeski doesn’t want me to (compliment) him,” said Stefko, who has won seven WPIAL titles and has more than 400 wins. “But he’s as good as anyone in 6A or better.”

Brozeski, who now will get his team ready to begin the PIAA playoffs, said the Lady Knights were well prepared for the Tigers.

“It’s like what Vince Lombardi said,” Brozeski said. “Run up to the line of scrimmage and tell the other team what you’re going to run. Then let them try to stop it.

“We understand that for us to succeed, it is just us being ourselves.”

Norwin gathered for an impromptu prayer service Thursday at St. Agnes in Irwin before the final.

“They have faith in each other,” the coach said.

Brozeski wore a rosary around his neck after the game. In jest, he said he needed three rosaries to beat North Allegheny.

“They have been through a lot, individually and together, but I love the fact that they stayed together and battled through it,” Brozeski said of his girls. “This is a year in waiting. I love the fact they weren’t deterred and came back strong and were able to be a champion.”

Norwin will begin prep work for the PIAA playoffs, which begin Friday. The Lady Knights will take on William Penn (16-11) out of York at a WPIAL site.

With Norwin and Greensburg Central Catholic claiming championships, this is the first time since 2006 that two Westmoreland girls teams won in the same year.

Monessen and GCC were champions 18 years ago.

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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