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Norwin girls basketball coach Brian Brozeski laid out how he wants his team to get better from practice to practice and from game to game with the overarching goal to be playing at their peak at the end of the regular season.
There’s time left to climb before the Knights enter the postseason for the 17th consecutive season, and recent results show they are trending in the right direction.
Norwin (10-8, 7-2) entered the week winners of five of its last six games and can clinch at least a share of the Section 2-6A title with a win against Hempfield on Friday. The Knights can win the section outright if they defeat Hempfield and Latrobe loses one of its last two games.
That’s a pretty good place to be considering the lack of experience that dotted the roster at the beginning of the season. The progress comes from maximizing each practice. Brozeski is proud of the way his girls have taken it upon themselves to uphold tradition at the program, which won the WPIAL title in 2015 and ’16.
“It’s been a year where we’ve had a lot of growth from week to week,” Brozeski said. “We take each situation and see what we can learn from them. The girls have really embraced that, and we’re starting to see a reduction in the common mistakes we were making earlier in the year.
“It’s a great group of girls that have taken a lot of pride to make sure the Norwin program continues to compete at a high level. They know the successes of the past, and they want to put their own stamp on it.”
The best example of the improvement came Jan. 25, when the Knights grinded out a 58-54 road victory against a Latrobe team that was previously unbeaten in section play. Norwin lost to Latrobe, No. 4 in the Trib rankings, 60-45 in the first meeting.
“We executed offensively and defensively in the style that we want to play,” Brozeski said. “I was really proud of the girls and the way they mentally digested the game plan that we instituted and their ability to recognize on the fly the matchups we wanted to take advantage of on both sides of the court. I really thought the girls played well, and fortunately we were able to knock down some key shots at key times to allow us to come out on top with a victory.”
One of the key shots was made by Jayla Wehner, whose bucket gave the Knights a three-point lead late after a 3-pointer by Latrobe’s Shelby Wetzel had cut the score to 54-53. Wehner finished with 16 points, Jessica Kolesar had 15 and Emily Brozeski scored 13.
Kolesar was the lone player of the trio who had varsity experience at the beginning of the year.
“I could probably go down the list and talk about each one of the girls who are contributing and where they’ve improved,” Brozeski said. “We go into each week setting achievable goals for them as far as something we need to tweak or adjust to make them better. We don’t try to overload them but just take manageable tweaks each week that guide us to a better picture at the end. I’ve been proud of their improvement.”
Norwin plays a challenging nonsection slate to close out the season, taking on No. 3 Bethel Park and No. 2 Peters Township. The Knights also faced No. 1 North Allegheny early in the season, so they’ve faced the top four teams in the Trib Class 6A rankings.
The nonsection slate and the last section game against Hempfield will provide a stiff test entering the postseason. Brozeski is looking forward to seeing how his team responds.
“Like a lot of teams, we have multiple steps to the goals we want to achieve,” Brozeski said. “One of the things is you want to get into the tournament, and then you want to go ahead and keep on achieving higher goals from there. We’re glad to be in the tournament, but by no means are we just satisfied to be there. We want to achieve the second phase of our goals in the tournament.”
Jerin Steele is a freelance writer.