Norwin, Penn-Trafford girls to meet with section title at stake
Coaches Brian Brozeski and John Giannikas know to expect a spirited game every time the Norwin and Penn-Trafford girls basketball teams meet.
That competitiveness will likely only increase when the teams meet Friday night with the section championship up for grabs. Penn-Trafford (15-4, 12-0) entered the week atop Section 1-AAAA, with Norwin (14-5, 11-1) just one game behind.
While the game promises a lot of excitement, both coaches are trying to keep their teams focused on the bigger picture.
“That's the thing about sports,” said Brozeski, the Norwin coach. “You want to keep even-keeled; you don't want to get too high or too low. You usually perform best when you have an even mindset. It's going to be a big game, but we have to approach it with the same mindset.”
“I'm sure it (adds something) for all the people in the stands, and I'm sure it does for the kids,” said Giannikas, the Penn-Trafford coach. “As a staff trying to get ready for a game, you just try to prepare for another good team and do the best you can to put the kids in a position to succeed. But you can't be naive about it. Sure, it's going to be fun. It'll be a big game for everybody and fun for everybody to come watch.”
The de facto section championship game matches two of the hottest teams in Class AAAA. Penn-Trafford was on an 11-game winning streak entering this week's action, while Norwin had won eight straight.
“Over the last few games, we're very pleased with the effort the girls are putting forth, as far as execution and just overall effort,” Brozeski said. “We're hoping to keep that going as we move forward with the rest of the season.”
“I think that's every team's goal, to keep playing better and better as the year goes on and playing your best ball come playoff time,” Giannikas said. “We're no different than any other team. We have a huge one (Tuesday) at Latrobe. They're playing better. It's always tough to win on the road, and then obviously next Friday against Norwin who's playing really well. It's exciting to be a part of it. It's fun to be in this situation, and we'll see how we do. But our goal is just to play our next game better than our last one.”
The first game between Norwin and Penn-Trafford served as somewhat of a wakeup call for the Knights, as they lost, 45-39, on their home court. Penn-Trafford never trailed in that game, leading by double digits for much of the second half before Norwin made a late push.
“I do know we were all left with a sour taste in our mouth,” Brozeski said. “But that was the first game, and now all we have to do is make sure we execute our game plan and see if we can change the result.”
Penn-Trafford held Norwin to its lowest point total of the season in the earlier matchup, and Giannikas said it would take a similar type of effort for the Warriors to triumph again in the rematch.
“It's tough to hold a good shooting team down like that multiple times,” Giannikas said. “So we have to play as good on defense, and we actually have to shoot better also. We left some points out there, and I think they had some looks they'd like to have back that they probably thought should have gone down.”
While Friday's game will likely decide playoff seeding along with the section title, both teams are already in the postseason and hope to make a push there as well.
Brozeski and Giannikas both said their teams have improved as the season has gone on, and both hope to see that trend continue.
“I've been very pleased with our progress,” Brozeski said. “We're trying to monitor it as coaches to try to make sure we're not putting too much on their plates. But the girls have been very receptive, and I'm very pleased with we're headed.”