Knights second at Betsy Invite
In a game marked by substantial runs, Norwin's girls had one run too few.
A third-quarter scoring swoon led the Knights to a loss in the final of the annual Betsy Invitational at Elizabeth Forward by the host team, 56-41, on Friday.
Alayna Gribble led Norwin (4-5) with 14 points, and Madi Guffey added team highs of 16 rebounds, three blocks and three assists. Tournament Most Valuable Player Natalie Fekula led Class AAA No. 4 Elizabeth Forward (8-1) with 14 points, all in the second half.
“EF is a solid team, and we didn't capitalize on some of the moments that we had,” Norwin coach Brian Brozeski said. “We had some possessions where we didn't get a shot off. We turned the ball over, and that started to snowball against us.”
Things didn't start out looking good for the Knights, as the Warriors scored the first eight points of the game and held Norwin scoreless for six minutes. That changed when Rachel Keto scored on a nice high-low post pass from Guffey, which sent the Knights into action.
A Gribble 3-pointer helped Norwin score nine unanswered points in the final two minutes, and hoops by Julia Carter and Amanda Batey capped off a 13-0 run in the second quarter. But EF came right back with its second 8-0 run of the game to eventually take a halftime lead, 22-17.
The Warriors pulled away with a big third quarter and took their biggest lead of the game, 39-23, on the final basket of the period. But Norwin had another run in it to make the fourth quarter interesting.
Gribble's three-point play started a run, and Dominique Petach and Keto scored to give Norwin the first seven points of the quarter. More offense from Gribble, who had 11 in the final quarter, pulled Norwin to within six, 42-36.
“You're always monitoring and looking at things and making adjustments as the game goes on,” Brozeski said. “That's just part of the game, and we had some things that worked for us.”
Elizabeth Forward took a timeout and returned to the court to put the game out of reach. The third 8-0 run of the night for EF, which included four Fekula free throws, extended the lead for the final time.
“We're not where we should be yet, but we're still working to get there,” said Batey, was selected with Gribble to the all-tournament team.
“We needed to make better passes out there and play better defense — deny their passes and steal the ball.”
“It wouldn't be so heartbreaking if we didn't believe that we were a good team,” Brozeski said. “We just have to find consistency — maybe figure out what it is we're eating on the night before our wins — and play like we're capable of every night.”
Norwin did the right things in its first game of the tournament, a 70-45 win over Baldwin (3-4). Gribble led the Knights with 17 points in that game, while Baldwin was led by Nikki Corcoran with 13.
The Knights come back quickly in the new year, as they return to Section 1-AAAA play on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. on the road against Albert Gallatin. The Knights are 2-1 in section play, which currently has them in a tie for third and in a good position if they continue to win.
“We have to keep working together and passing the ball on the court,” Batey said. “We have to keep our heads up when we're down, because we are a good team.”
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.