Norwin sweeps Penn-Trafford
As with most rivalry games, there was agitation on both ends, physical play and moments when both teams felt disquieted.
Norwin didn't have the fast start it had when it played Penn-Trafford last month, but the Lady Knights finished with a strong second half to down the Warriors and sweep the season series, 47-34, in a Section 2-6A game Friday night in North Huntingdon.
Thirteen fouls in the first nine minutes seemed to set the tone, and it was up to the teams to adjust. Norwin (10-4, 5-1) keeps winning and doesn't necessarily care how it looks doing so.
“It wasn't pretty, in fact it was borderline sloppy,” Norwin coach Brian Brozeski said. “But I am proud of the way our girls battled back. You never know who will be hot for us each game. These games (with Penn-Trafford) are always close.”
The rivalry's future appears to be in good hands as freshmen played key roles in the teams' second meeting.
Freshman Jayla Wehner made three 3-pointers and put up a season-high 11 points for the Knights, who will take a five-game winning streak into Tuesday's showdown at first-place Penn Hills (11-2, 5-0).
“Jayla gave us a nice little spark,” Brozeski said. “I thought she made a big difference offensively and defensively. She jump-started us.”
Bella Long, Penn-Trafford's ninth-grade sharpshooter, led her team with 10 points.
The game's outcome was decided in the third quarter when Norwin's offense roared to life, and Penn-Trafford went cold.
Norwin took a 25-20 lead into halftime, but Long cut it to 25-23 with her second 3. Danielle McMaster's 3 stretched the lead to 31-23, but Kylie Grabowski hit a pull-up jumper for Penn-Trafford (7-6, 2-4).
But the Warriors went more four minutes without another field goal, and Norwin senior Abi Gabauer flipped a switch for the Knights, scoring seven consecutive points — a floater, breakaway layup and a 3 — to push Norwin's lead to 38-25 after three quarters.
“We had too much of a drought,” Penn-Trafford coach John Giannikas said. “That was the difference in the game. It was a tough, hard-nosed game. Both teams played hard. Their four-minute spurt was better than ours.”
Penn-Trafford, which had just five points in the third, could only cut it to 10 in the fourth. Athena Biondi attacked the basket and grabbed rebounds for the Warriors. She scored nine, and Mackenzie Aunkst added eight.
Gabauer finished with a game-high 17 points, nine in the third.
“You're only going to contain great players for so long,” Giannikas said. “And they really had some freshmen step up.”
Penn-Trafford led 12-7 after the first quarter, with Long connecting on a buzzer-beating 3.
Norwin continued to substitute players with rapidity, and the rest helped against the aggressive Warriors.
Wehner made a 3 to tie it 12-12, and Rachel Casper made a jumper to give Penn-Trafford a 14-12 lead. But four free throws, two each by Gabauer and Wehner, and a 3 from the wing by Wehner put the Knights up 16-14. They did not trail again.
Senior Danielle McMaster finished with eight points for Norwin, all in the second half. She sliced down the lane for a layup with a minute left to make it 45-32.
With momentum, Norwin will look to take down Penn Hills next.
“That game's about as big as they come,” Brozeski said. “But win or lose, our season is not over. Penn Hills is a very athletic team. They're long and fast, and their intensity is impeccable.”
Norwin won the first game against Penn-Trafford, 53-35.