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Injury-depleted Norwin girls no match for Mt. Lebanon

| Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012

Give Norwin girls basketball coach Brian Brozeski his entire team, and Tuesday's WPIAL Class AAAA first-round game against three-time defending state champion Mt. Lebanon would easily be the toughest test the Knights have faced all season.

Take two of those players away• That's a steep hill to climb.

With senior forward Jen Straw — a Clarion recruit — and junior point guard Brittany Lojas both out for the year with torn ACLs, No. 15 seed Norwin gave little resistance to the second-seeded Blue Devils, dropping a 70-38 decision that underscored just how dominating the defending state champs can be.

"You always think about different players you could have on your team, but when it comes down to it, that's all part of the game," Brozeski said. "You have to monitor and adjust. Same thing with injuries. When injuries happen, you can't dwell on them. You just have to make the best of it and see what happens."

Mt. Lebanon (20-3), which has now won 27 of its past 28 postseason games, advances to the Class AAAA quarterfinals and will play No. 7 seed Pine-Richland on Friday, site and time still to be determined.

Liz Tommasi scored a game-high 18 points for Mt. Lebanon, which forced 21 Knights turnovers, while Emma Pellicano added 14. Norwin (12-11) got 11 points from Abbey Zorzi, and Nicolette Ingel and Rachel Dellefemine added six apiece.

Norwin kept it close early as the teams were tied at eight midway through the first quarter, but Mt. Lebanon finished the period with an 11-2 spurt, the first eight of those coming from Kelly Johnson, who converted a layup off a steal, knocked down a 3-pointer from the right corner and had a nifty putback underneath.

Mt. Lebanon increased its lead to 32-15 by halftime after outscoring the Knights, 13-5, in the second quarter. By the break, seven different players had scored for the Blue Devils, who committed an uncharacteristic 10 turnovers during the opening half.

Not so surprisingly, that number dipped to four after halftime.

"I thought we played a lot smarter in the second half than we did in the first," coach Dori Oldaker said.

Mt. Lebanon outscored Norwin, 23-11, in the third quarter, getting 10 points from Tommasi along the way, and the fourth quarter featured a bunch of reserves checking the box for playoff experience.

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