Neumann-Goretti is one of the mid-Atlantic’s perennial girls basketball powers. Still, the reinforcement that the program received this year just in time for the PIAA state playoffs shines a light on just how that dominance is sometimes perpetuated.
As reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Neumann Goretti was led throughout the state 6A playoffs by Diamond Johnson, a superstar shooting guard who spent the majority of the season in Virginia before transferring to Neumann-Goretti just before the playoffs began in February, emerged as a bona fide team leader throughout the course of the playoggs.
Johnson spent 19 games of her junior season at Phoebus High, in the Virginia Tidewater region. During that time she averaged a jaw dropping 33 points-per-game. Then she transferred to Neumann-Goretti in early February, gained immediate eligibility and became one of the program’s leaders from Day 1. Entering Monday night’s state final, Johnson averaged 16 points per game in the tournament.
The coach of the team Neumann-Goretti faced off against with a state title on the line was less than pleased that Johnson was eligible on the opposing bench.
“There’s nothing anybody can do to change this [Johnson situation], and it’s unfortunate because it seems every year now, the state tournament comes and the eastern part of the state dominates,” Bishop Canevin girls basketball coach Scott Dibble told the Post-Gazette as his team prepared for the final game in Hershey. “The reason they do is because kids go to school wherever they want. I should’ve gone down to Florida two weeks ago and brought two players up here to play and said they’re here for academics and family reasons. But the WPIAL would never let that happen because they have ethics and stick by them.
“This situation is unfortunate and a travesty. It’s unfortunate for all the kids on other teams who have put in a lot of hard work and dedication. … I have nothing against the girl who transferred. But there are rules in place and when stuff like this happens, it just puts a black cloud over everything.”
Dibble was particularly upset because he felt an interview Johnson gave with Daily Press, her local paper in Virginia, proved that she was motivated to transfer at least in part by the ability to be part of a better basketball program.
“The school (Neumann-Goretti) is better for my basketball and education,” said Johnson, who, according to Bell, already has a Division I scholarship offer from Radford University. “It will help me get better, allow me to work harder and push me.
“I want to try and get into a good college. I’m very excited.”
Johnson wasn’t the only one who was excited by her inclusion in to the Neumann-Goretti program just in time for the team’s postseason run.
That’s the good new. Now Dibble is upset that his own players were forced to line up against a player he insists should still be back in her hometown in Virginia.
An end result of Johnson’s transfer was yet another state title victory, 63-46, at Coach Dibble’s expense, of course.