Norwin heads to girls playoffs as third-place team
Norwin might be going into the girls basketball playoffs coming off a loss, but the Knights also are coming off three strong performances.
The Knights couldn't put together a comeback in their regular-season and Section 1-AAAA finale against Penn-Trafford, but Norwin kept the game close throughout in a 51-45 loss at home on Friday.
Madi Guffey scored 11 points, and Alayna Gribble had 10 to lead Norwin (12-10, 10-4), which missed out on a chance to pull into a second-place tie in the section with Penn-Trafford (18-4, 12-2). Maria Palarino led all scorers with 18 for P-T.
Though the loss ended a two-game winning streak for the Knights, Norwin will be much happier with Friday's outcome against P-T than it was after their first meeting, a 62-36 win for the Warriors.
“Overall, I loved the way the girls battled,” Norwin coach Brian Brozeski said. “P-T came out shooting red hot, and I appreciated the way we fought back. It would have been nice to win on the scoreboard, but we still played the way we want.”
The Knights trailed by eight after the opening quarter, but by halftime they had cut the lead to 27-22.
Norwin was bolstered by its largest home crowd of the year, as the upper level of bleachers had to be opened to make room for the crowd at the girls/boys doubleheader against P-T.
“We really appreciated all the fan support. It was nice for the girls to get to experience an environment like that,” Brozeski said. “It's something the girls will be able to remember, and I hope we continue getting that kind of support in the future.”
The third-place finish behind Hempfield and Penn-Trafford is an improvement by one place over last year, and with that, the Knights should be seeded higher than last year's No. 15 seed for this year's playoffs.
“It was a tough section this year. Everyone was improving through the whole year, and there was a lot of growth from the first half to the second half,” Brozeski said. “Each team brought something unique to prepare for.”
Ties for fourth place in three of the four sections, including both Latrobe and Albert Gallatin at 6-8 in Section 1, means a total of 19 teams will be in this year's Quad-A playoffs and that three preliminary round games will be played.
Norwin should avoid those three games by getting a seed better than No. 14, but it was unknown entering this week how or if it would affect the Knights' playoff schedule by moving first-round games to next week from this Friday or Saturday.
“If we play a team that does things we're used to seeing, I'd rather us get out there and play (on Friday or Saturday),” Brozeski said. “But if we have to play a team that we have to game plan for a little more, it might be good to have those extra days to prepare.
“I try not to worry about who we're facing until we know for sure. As soon as you take the time to try and figure it out, you get a surprise.”
The WPIAL playoff pairings were scheduled to be released on Tuesday night, after this edition's deadline. To see the full brackets, visit www.wpial.org.
Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.