Norwin girls rally late, topple North Allegheny in overtime to defend WPIAL title
There was one word the members of the Norwin girls basketball team could use to describe their win over North Allegheny on Saturday night.
The No. 1 Knights (25-0) came back from a 15-point deficit in the second half to defeat the No. 2 Tigers, 63-57, in overtime and capture their second straight WPIAL Class AAAA title at Petersen Events Center.
“In the fourth quarter, it really hit us that this is live or die,” Norwin senior Taylor Sabol said. “We came out and wanted to win for each other.”
Trailing 49-36 heading into the fourth quarter, Pitt recruit Alayna Gribble gave Norwin a spark with 11 points. The Knights outscored North Allegheny, 19-6, in the fourth quarter.
“I thought they were playing really scared,” Nowin senior Dominique Petach said. “We took advantage of it.”
A Petach layup with 2 minutes, 42 seconds left tied the score at 55-55, but the teams went scoreless over the rest of regulation. Sabol gave the Knights the lead when she connected on a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:32 to play in overtime.
“I could have done better and found some adjustments,” North Allegheny coach Spencer Stefko said. “That was a team-defense deficiency.
“I am sure coach (Brian) Brozeski lit a fire under (Gribble) and became assertive. At that point, it falls on the other coach, and I didn't adjust well enough to win.”
The Knights held the Tigers to only two points over the final 7:26.
“We have focused on defense the entire season,” Brozeski said. “It is a cliche, but defense wins championships. There were some tired bodies out there, but it was a collective team effort.”
Gribble led the Knights with 22 points. While she was excited about her big game on her future home court, Gribble said she is enjoying every game with Norwin.
“It is nice to have two wins on Pitt's court coming in,” Gribble said. “I am excited to play here next year. I am also really upset that I have to leave this team.”
Petach added 13, and Jenna Cole finished with 11. Only two other girls basketball teams have won the WPIAL title with a perfect record in the last decade: Seton-La Salle in Class AA in 2012 and Mt. Lebanon in Class AAAA in '09.
Hailey Zeise led North Allegheny (22-4) with 15 points. Taylor Lake had 12 points and 11 rebounds. The Tigers made 7 of 15 3-pointers in the first half but finished 10 of 30 from beyond the arc.
“That is part of our DNA,” Stefko said. “We want to be an attacking team. We'll go back and watch the film, and if some of those were a little too quick that is on the coach.
“When you lose than kind of lead in the fourth quarter, that falls on the head coach.”
Both teams advance to the PIAA tournament next Saturday.