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Plum girls basketball falls prey to No. 3 Norwin’s pressure defense | TribLIVE.com
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Plum girls basketball falls prey to No. 3 Norwin’s pressure defense

Tribune-Review
| Friday, February 13, 2015 10:09 p.m
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Tony Pinneri | For Trib Total Media
Plum's Alexa Dudding (20) is defended by Norwin's Amanda Batey (0) during a WPIAL Class AAAA first-round playoff game at Fox Chapel.
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Tony Pinneri | For Trib Total Media
Plum defenders Kathleen Crossey (33) and Mandy Majocha (24) try to strip the ball from Norwin's Alayna Gribble (23) during a WPIAL Class AAAA first-round playoff game at Fox Chapel.
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Tony Pinneri | For Trib Total Media
Plum's Kathleen Crossey (33) dives for the basketball at the feet of a Norwin defender during a WPIAL Class AAAA first-round playoff game at Fox Chapel.
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Tony Pinneri | For Trib Total Media
Norwin's Delaney Arbore (4) is defended by Plum's Alexa Dudding (20) during a WPIAL Class AAAA first-round playoff game at Fox Chapel.
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Tony Pinneri | For Trib Total Media
Plum's Alexa Dudding (20) fights for the ball against Norwin's Amanda Batey (0) during a WPIAL Class AAAA first-round playoff game at Fox Chapel.

Plum felt a good deal of pressure in its first-round playoff game Friday night. It came mostly from Norwin’s defense.

Using a full-court press with frequent traps, No. 3 Norwin (18-4) overwhelmed Plum for a 66-48 victory in a WPIAL Class AAAA first-round girls game at Fox Chapel.

“One of the attributes of our team is our depth, and so any time we can try to bring girls off the bench that are fresh and frustrate the other team, I think that’s an advantage for us,” Norwin coach Brian Brozeski said. “We tried to put Plum in that situation, and fortunately we were able to be successful with that.”

The Knights’ defensive strategy paid off in two ways.It forced Plum into frequent mistakes — the Mustangs committed 23 turnovers — and it sped up the game, Norwin’s preferred pace.

“We wanted to slow it down,” Plum coach Eric Gillis said. “They’re more of a run-and-jump team, and they want the games in the 50s and 60s.”

Even when No. 14 Plum (12-11) managed to break the press, the Mustangs struggled to get the ball to their leading scorer, 6-foot-3 center Courtney Zezza.

Norwin packed players on the inside to limit Zezza, a St. Francis (Pa.) recruit. Although she finished with 19 points, 12 of them came in the fourth quarter.

“We struggled to find ways to get her the basketball tonight,” Gillis said. “I’ll take full blame on that.”

The first quarter was tightly contested, with Norwin holding an 8-7 lead, but the Knights took control in the second.

After Zezza scored on Plum’s opening possession of the second quarter, Norwin went on a 14-0 run to go up by double digits — an advantage the Knights held for the rest of the game. Plum committed six turnovers and was held scoreless for more than five minutes.

“I think the girls came in here tonight with a mental image of what it takes to win in the playoffs and understanding the type of competition they’re going to see,” Brozeski said. “We’re just hoping we can keep gaining more and more experience this year.”

Junior guard/forward Alayna Gribble, a William & Mary recruit, led Norwin with 24 points and 10 rebounds — a number of which came on the offensive end. She also was part of the group defending Zezza for most of the first three quarters.

Ashley Amato scored 13 points for Plum, which lost its sixth straight WPIAL first-round game. Mandy Majocha added 12 points.

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at dgulasy@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.

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