HERSHEY, Pa. — Neumann-Goretti shot nearly 50 percent from the field, forced Bishop Canevin into 25 turnovers, and had success when it switched to a 2-3 zone defense at the start of the second half.
Those were a few of the factors that resulted in the Saints' 63-46 defeat of the Crusaders in Monday night's PIAA Class 3A girls' basketball final at the Giant Center.
Senior guard Jabria Ingram closed her stellar career with a fourth straight championship medal wrapped around her neck. Taking a defensive-minded approach, the Hartford recruit finished with more steals (10) than points (nine).
"She did all the little things for us," Neumann-Goretti coach Andrea Peterson said. "She said, 'My role in this game is to play tough defense.' "
Tatiana Jones, a 5-foot 11 junior, paced the Saints (22-7) on offense with 17 points. The hard-charging forward shot 4 for 8 from the field and 9 for 10 from the line. She also grabbed seven rebounds.
Neumann-Goretti led District 7's Canevin, located in Pittsburgh's Oakwood section, by only 24-21 at intermission. "In the locker room, I lit the players up a little bit," Peterson said.
Down by 29-28 with 3 1/2 minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Catholic League runner-up closed the stanza with a 9-0 run that included Kiara Koger's three-pointer, Jones' inside bucket, and Jones' fastbreak layup off a dish from Diamond Johnson.
Peterson and Neumann-Goretti's administrators have caught heavy flack about Johnson's playoff participation. The dynamic and swift sophomore guard transferred from Virginia's Phoebus High in February and was declared eligible for the PIAA tournament following a hearing on March 5.
"I don't read into it or think about it," Peterson said. "People are going to have their own opinions. For me, it's about our team."
Johnson, who averaged 33 points in 19 games for Phoebus this season, produced 14 points, six boards (three on offense), five assists, and three steals in 23 minutes vs. the Crusaders.
Senior forward Daijah Parmley and junior guard Kiara Koger chipped in 10 and eight points, respectively, in the triumph.
Ahead by 44-36 with 5:30 remaining in the contest, the Saints (22-7) clinched their latest title with an 11-0 burst. The winners shot 25 for 51 from the field and 11 for 18 from the line.
Junior Shamyjha Price spurred Canevin (24-5) with 31 points, including the 1,000th of her career in the third quarter, and 20 rebounds. "She's quite a player," Peterson said. "You have to give her a lot of credit for how hard she played in trying to keep them in the game."
Neumann-Goretti 12 12 13 26-63
Bishop Canevin 6 15 7 18-46
NG: Jabria Ingram 9, Kiara Koger 8, Daijah Parmley 10, Tatiana Jones 17, Angel Ricks 2, Diamond Johnson 14, Sara Coppola 3.