NA Rallies From 10-Points Down To Defeat Norwin in WPIAL Semifinals, 38-36

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After a one-year hiatus, the North Allegheny girls’ basketball team punched its ticket to the WPIAL Class 6A championship game for the seventh time in the last eight seasons with a thrilling 38-36 come-from-behind victory against Norwin. The Tigers trailed by as much as 10 points in the third quarter before storming back in the final stanza of Monday night’s WPIAL semifinal at Fox Chapel High School. NA has won 15 of the last 17 games heading into Friday’s WPIAL title tilt with Upper St. Clair at the Petersen Events Center.

In a game that featured six lead changes, Norwin held a 9-4 lead in the first quarter before North Allegheny ended the period on a 7-0 run. Junior guard Kellie McConnell capped the run with a 3-pointer from the left corner to give NA an 11-9 lead heading into the second period.

The Knights surged ahead with an 8-0 run to start the second quarter and outscored the Tigers, 11-4, in the period for a 20-15 halftime advantage. Sophomore Kendall Berger and junior forward Lauren Polangio spearheaded the Norwin effort with seven and six points, respectively, in the first half.

The duo of Berger and Polangio continued the tidal wave in the third quarter as Norwin built a 25-15 lead. Berger’s layup with 5:45 remaining in the third quarter stretched the lead to 10 points, the largest of the night. Berger finished with a game-high 16 points and Polangio netted 10 points.

Undaunted, North Allegheny chipped away and cut the deficit to 32-27 by the end of the quarter, thanks in part to a pair of 3-pointers by senior guard Cam Phillips. Fellow senior Jasmine Timmerson opened the fourth quarter with a corner trey to trim the score to 32-30, Knights, and junior Caroline Henderson followed with a steal and layup to tie the game at 32-32 with just over seven minutes to play.

Berger gave Norwin a temporary 34-32 advantage on a drive to the basket before Henderson connected on a 3-pointer from the top of the key to vault NA in front, 35-34, with 5:32 remaining in the fourth quarter. Out of a Norwin timeout, Polangio came through with a layup to give the Knights a 36-35 lead with 4:30 remaining, but again the Tigers answered back on a 1-for-2 trip to the free throw line by Timmerson to tie the game at 36-36 with 3:30 on the clock. With 2:42 remaining, junior forward Lydia Betz scored what proved to be the game-winning basket for North Allegheny with a layup on an inbounds pass under the basket for a 38-36 advantage. The final two minutes of the game proved to be a defensive stalemate, with the Knights owning the final possession of the game. Norwin’s last gasp, a desperation shot by Berger from beyond the arc, was off target as time expired and North Allegheny prevailed to advance to the WPIAL finals.

Leading the offensive charge for the Tigers was Timmerson with 12 points, earning her Wright Automotive Player of the Game honors. Betz and Phillips totaled eight points each and Henderson scored all five of her points during NA’s pivotal 8-2 run to start the fourth quarter.

North Allegheny improves to 19-5 overall and will take on Upper St. Clair on Friday at 7:00 p.m. at the Petersen Events Center. Norwin slips to 20-4 overall and will host Mt. Lebanon in the third-place consolation game on Wednesday night. The North Allegheny Sports Network will have live coverage of Friday’s championship game.

Girls Basketball vs. Norwin, 2-27-23

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