BUTLER TWP — The Norwin girls basketball team has Butler’s number.
The Knights proved so once again Thursday night, defeating the host Golden Tornado by a 56-34 score.
“They’re good every year,” Butler coach Mark Maier said. “Nothing mystical about it. They played hard. They made shots. They executed. Adding to their success, I don’t think we played well.”
The Golden Tornado has fallen in each of its past eight meetings with Norwin, including a 53-33 loss in last year’s WPIAL Class 6A quarterfinal. Seven of those defeats came by 20 points or more.
The Knights (8-3, 5-1) made Butler’s top scorers lives miserable. Butler junior Justine Forbes and senior Makenna Maier averaged 11 and 10 points per game, respectively, during their past four outings.
The Knights limited the duo to six combined points.
Makenna Maier’s lone field goal, which came with 45 seconds left in the first quarter, was part of a small rally that pulled Butler (7-5, 3-3) within three points. It was as close as the Golden Tornado would get for the rest of the contest, partially due to their inability to score down low.
“In the first half, I thought we had good drives to the hoop, but good golly, everyone was blocked,” Coach Maier said. “I thought, in the third quarter, there was a spurt where we played better . . . We got better shots. We didn’t necessarily make them. But the offense looked better and more cohesive.
“It’s hard to beat a good team like that in the first half if we’re going one pass, drive, shot. You’re not going to win that way.”
In the middle quarters, Butler only managed seven points. The offense went 9.6 % (3-of-31) from the field in that time frame, including 1-of-16 from behind the arc.
“The game of basketball is about matchups and, fortunately for us, we have a good matchup in this scenario,” Knights coach Brian Brozeski said. “I think some of our height was able to give us some advantages on the defensive side.”
The Knights joined WPIAL Section 1-6A in the 2018-19 season and finished second in the standings the past three seasons.
Coach Maier said that Butler’s level of energy didn’t quite resemble that of its earlier loss to section-leading North Allegheny. The Golden Tornado lost to the Tigers, 53-47, but were within a bucket with 30 seconds to go.
“Is it the chicken or the egg?” Coach Maier asked. “Did we make shots because we had better energy against NA? Or did we have energy because we made shots. I tend to think it’s, play with energy and good things happen. I didn’t think we had the energy tonight.”
Macklin Hanley, Hannah Aldridge, Sydney Patterson and Ava Selfridge came off the bench to make treys for the Golden Tornado. Maisy Gibson paced the team with 11 points.
“We have 22 games,” Maier said. “Every one is a chapter in the book. You’ve got to learn from it, whether it’s a 100-point win or a 30-point loss. Eventually you’ve got to move on and get better.”
Maggie Race 5 0-0 15, Lauren Palangio 6 0-0 12, Chloe Lukondi 2 0-0 6, Brianna Zajicek 3 0-0 6, Alyssa Laukus 1 3-6 5, Ava Kobus 2 1-2 5, Kathryn Botti 1 2-2 4, Anna DeFazio 1 0-0 2, Kendall Williams 0 1-2 1. Totals: 21 7-12 56.
Maisy Gibson 4 2-2 11, Aubree Tack 2 0-2 5, Justine Forbes 2 0-0 4, Macklin Hanley 1 0-0 3, Hannah Aldridge 1 0-0 3, Sydney Patterson 1 0-0 3, Ava Selfridge 1 0-0 3, Makenna Maier 1 0-0 2. Totals: 10 2-4 34.
Norwin 15 15 13 13 — 56
Butler 11 3 4 16 — 34
3-point goals: Norwin 8 (Race 5, Lukondi 2, Kobus) ; Butler 4 (Gibson, Aldridge, Patterson, Selfridge)
Monday: Butler at Seneca Valley