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Norwin teams hope to break through in playoffs

| Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012, 11:56 p.m.
For the Norwin Star
Norwin forward Matt Stewart, shown in a game against Ringgold during his junior season, sent in his National Letter of Intent on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012, to play for Wheeling Jesuit University beginning in 2013-14. Aaron Loughner | For the Norwin Star

Regular-season success rarely has been a problem for the Norwin boys and girls basketball teams.

Getting over the hump in the postseason, however, has been another story.

Both Norwin squads again are blessed with abundant talent to have successful seasons. Until the playoffs arrive, however, the jury remains out on whether these teams will have accomplished their goals.

“We've had a bitter taste in our mouth from the playoffs,” Norwin boys coach Lynn Washowich said.

Norwin qualified for the 2008 WPIAL semifinals. Since then, it missed the playoffs in 2009 and then fell in the first round of the playoffs in each of the following three seasons. Close losses to McKeesport, Chartiers Valley and Gateway still irritate Washowich.

“We felt like we let those games away, right out of our fingers,” he said. “We had Char Valley on the ropes then missed eight free throws in the fourth quarter. We were up seven against McKeesport with 2:50 left. It still bothers me.”

There is good and bad news regarding Norwin's hope for a playoff run this season.

The Knights have four starters returning, and their new starter is Curtis Terz, a sophomore transfer from Greensburg Central Catholic.

“He has always lived in this district,” Washowich said. “It's good to have him. He's only a sophomore, but he can really play.”

Problem is the rest of Class AAAA can play, too.

Washowich has never seen such competition.

“It's already an incredible class, and then you add New Castle and Hampton,” he said. “Man, this is going to be a struggle every night.”

Senior Matt Stewart is expected to lead the way for Norwin. The forward led Norwin with 19 points per game last season.

He's one of four Norwin regulars who stands at least 6-foot-5.

Washowich clearly has high hopes for this team.

“You never enter a season with different expectations,” he said. “We intend to compete, and with so many guys back, we're ahead of where we were last season at this point.”

The Lady Knights have been one of Class AAAA's most consistent teams for the past decade.

They will boast a potent starting lineup this season. Madi Guffey, Rachel Keto, Rachel Dellefemine, Nikki Ingel and Amanda Batey give Norwin a rare blend of size and skill.

Guffey and Keto are both 6-foot.

Brian Brozeski, in his second year as Norwin coach, also has his eye on a postseason run.

“We just want to be playing our best basketball at the end of the season,” he said.

At Norwin, that's always the goal.

Both coaches hope it becomes reality in February.

“I really don't know exactly what to expect because this class is unbelievably good, and our section (Section 1) is the best it's been since I've been at Norwin,” Washowich said. “I mean, there really are no bad teams in our section. It's never been this deep. But I like to think we're pretty darn good, too, so we'll see what happens.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jyohe@tribweb.com.

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