Diamond Johnson, the sophomore transfer from Virginia, was the topic of conversation as Neumann-Goretti defeated Saint Basil, 47-29, in the quarterfinals of the PIAA Class 3A playoffs at Bensalem.
The 5-foot-5 point guard, who averaged 33 points in 19 games for Hampton Phoebus High School this season, scored 15 points for the Saints on Friday. She was coming off a 16-point performance against Loyalsock Township on Tuesday. Following a hearing on March 5th, Johnson was declared eligible for the PIAA tournament.
“In the hearing we listened to the reasons for leaving the school in Virginia and re-enrolling in a school in Philadelphia,” said District 12 vice chairperson Joe Sette in a statement acquired by Bob Greenburg of sportsradio967.com. “We found out that the student was a native Philadelphian and left for Virginia when she was eleven years old. She returned to Philadelphia due to a private family matter which I cannot divulge to you. After listening to all of the witnesses involved and the collaborating evidence the District XII Committee went into deliberations”
St. Basil head coach Terry Mancini was unhappy with the final ruling.
“I think it’s a different game if you take the kid out from Virginia,” said Mancini. “How do I tell my kids that you played your hearts out and this happens? It’s unfortunate.”
According to the statement, the PIAA Board of Directors are now in the process of amending the PIAA constitution “to address in-season transfers.” The amendment is scheduled to go into effect starting on July 1, 2018.
How does a girl play most of a season in Virginia, transfer to PA and end up playing in the PIAA Tournament with powerhouse Neumann Goretti? D12 Vice Chairperson Joe Sette explains:
Bottom line is new PIAA rule which would prevent this doesn't go into effect till 7/1/18. pic.twitter.com/yhLBH3WI1A
— Bob Greenburg (@BobGreenburg) March 16, 2018
Tatiana Jones recorded 16 points for the Saints, who have their sights set on winning a fourth straight state crown. Catholic League MVP Jabria Ingram ended with eight points.
Neumann-Goretti will play District 2 champion Dunmore in the semifinals on Monday.
Casey Remolde had nine points to lead the Panthers, who had a 14-game winning streak snapped. Senior Jules Gura and freshman Denae Carter each added seven points.
St. Basil’s run comes to an end despite another successful season, which included a Catholic Academies crown and a District 1-11 subregional title.
A defensive first half ended with Remolde making a three-pointer to pull the Panthers within 17-16 at the half.
The turning point came in the third quarter as Neumann-Goretti outscored St. Basil by a 15-3 margin. Johnson and Kiara Koger both connected from beyond the arc during a 10-0 run to close out the period. Meanwhile, the Panthers went just 3-for-8 from the foul line in the stanza.
“We were a little sluggish in the first half,” Neumann-Goretti head coach Andrea Peterson said. “When we came out in the third quarter, I told them ‘you guys have to turn this on.’ We switched to our 2-3 [zone] and I think it was very beneficial.”
After St. Basil got within 32-23 early in the fourth, Koger made another clutch three-pointer for Neumann-Goretti. The Panthers hung around before Jones made back-to-back shots to put the game out of reach.
Neumann-Goretti 11 6 15 15 – 47
St. Basil 7 9 3 10 – 29
NG: Sara Coppola 2, Jabria Ingram 8, Diamond Johnson 15, Tatiana Jones 16, Kiara Koger 6.
SB: Denae Carter 7, Lizzie Deal 2, Jules Gura 7, Cheryl Remolde 4, Casey Remolde 9.