Norwin knocks off No. 1 North Allegheny
Norwin had trouble with North Allegheny’s post players much of the game.
But it didn’t deter Norwin junior Jayla Wehner from driving the lane in the final seconds.
Wehner split Brynn Serbin and Rachel Martindale and hit a floater over 6-foot Paige Morningstar with 6.3 seconds left to lift No. 2 Norwin to a 44-43 victory over No. 1 North Allegheny.
Norwin (17-1, 10-1) ended North Allegheny’s 48-game regular-season winning streak and the Tigers’ 28-game section winning streak.
The last time Norwin defeated North Allegheny (17-1, 10-1) was in the WPIAL Class AAAA championship game in 2016.
North Allegheny had one last chance, but Norwin senior Jessica Kolesar knocked the ball away from a driving Lizzy Groetsch with 3.1 seconds and Norwin came up with possession to seal the win.
“We usually go with 10 seconds to get the last shot, but the play that happened wasn’t the designed play,” Wehner said. “I saw a gap, and I knew I had to get the shot off or we might not get one off. It was the only floater I made the whole game.”
When junior Olivia Gribble, who finished with a game-high 18 points, saw the shot go up, she knew it was going in. Gribble made six 3-pointers.
“We didn’t set up a play,” Gribble said. “This is a surreal moment. They were ranked No. 1 in the state, beating them is the best moment ever. I was crying tears of joy at the end.”
North Allegheny, who won the first meeting, 55-44, raced out to an 18-11 lead and stretched it to 23-14 early in the second quarter behind Groetsch (11 points) and Martindale (seven).
But two 3-pointers by Gribble pulled Norwin to within 25-21 at halftime.
“It was an exciting game,” Norwin coach Brian Brozeski said. “In our pregame talk, we told them this would be a special night, a game you’ll talk about for a long time. Make sure you come out on the positive side.
“Pleased with how we competed, how we stayed in the game. We had adversity hit us early. I was shook up when my niece (Emily Brozeski) was on the ground with an ankle. But we battled back and kept on battling. I’m proud of the girls.”
Brozeski said Wehner was a bulldog when she drove into the paint.
“She’s a fighter and competitor,” Brozeski said. “There is no shame in getting blocked, you have to attack. Good things happen when you continue to attack.”
Emily Brozeski sat out most of the first quarter, but when she returned, she made plays in the paint to help Norwin reclaim a 33-31 lead by the end of the quarter.
Brozeski scored seven of her 11 points in the third quarter, and Norwin started winning rebound battles.
“We had a talk at halftime about the rebounding,” coach Brozeski said. “We may not be the biggest team, but we showed a lot of heart.”
Wehner’s 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter gave Norwin a 36-31.
But North Allegheny showed why it had won so many games the past three seasons.
“We got up on them in the first half, and they never went away,” North Allegheny coach Spencer Stefko said. “Wehner made a heck of a shot at the end. You have to give them credit for being in that position.
“They did a nice job defending us at the end. I’m proud of my kids. Norwin is so much better than an outsider may think.”
Groetsch led North Allegheny with 17 points and Martindale added 12.
Stefko said Norwin showed them on what they must work on before the playoffs begin next month.
And there is a good chance the teams may meet again.
Paul Schofield is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can reach Paul at [email protected] or via Twitter @Schofield_Trib.