LANGHORNE – Neshaminy boys varsity basketball head coach Jerry Devine has been placed on administrative leave following his ejection and apparent contact with a game official in last night’s home loss to Pennsbury.
The coach – who is also a special-education teacher at the school – was tossed from the game after protesting an offensive foul assessed one of his players with 15 seconds left in the fourth quarter and his team trailing by five points.
WBCB 1490 AM radio station live-streamed the Tuesday night contest and has video available on its website. In the film footage, Devine can be seen protesting the call in close proximity to one of three referees assigned to officiate the Suburban One League (SOL) matchup between the schools.
That referee is seen falling down and there’s questions regarding what contact the coach may have had with the official that could have caused the man to fall down.
Longtime WBCB broadcaster Vince Reed was right there, describing the action when the coach protested an offensive foul assessed sophomore Chris Arcidiacono, whose basket was waved off after making contact with Falcon defender Tyler Sessa-Reeves.
When Devine leapt onto the court in protest, the coach was called for a technical foul, which allows the opponent a pair of free throws.
Reed tells us the rest in the WBCB video:
“No basket – offensive foul and a technical. Oh! And Jerry Devine bumps the official, the official goes down so that should be two technicals (fouls) and he is gone (ejected),” says Reed, a Levittown resident.
“He will be gone on that one and he didn’t mean to. I could see it.”
“As he looked him down there, he realized what he had done but it was too late.”
“That was a pretty solid bump (but) I think it was unintended,” added WBCB co-host Chris Ermer, a graduate of Neshaminy. “He didn’t mean for him to go to the ground. It’s an unfortunate end to what has been a great contest.”
When Devine was ejected, Neshaminy athletic director Tom Magdelinskas can be seen escorting the coach off the court.
Spectators rose to their feet and clamored and soon after, the P.A. announcer asked the fans to settle down. “This is a basketball game,” he reminded those in attendance.
Chris Stanley, Neshaminy’s community relations coordinator, issued the following statement Wednesday morning (Jan. 6) regarding the incident:
“The administration at Neshaminy School District is conducting a thorough review of an incident at the varsity basketball game Tuesday evening (January 5, 2016) involving coach Jerry Devine and a referee. Appropriate action was taken at the game following that incident, and further measures may follow depending on the outcome of that review.”
The statement continues, “As this is a personnel matter, we will not be able to comment on the specifics of any possible disciplinary action until that review process is complete. Mr. Devine has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of that review for both his teaching and coaching positions.”
The district’s statement concludes, “The athletic program at Neshaminy places the values of fair play and sportsmanlike conduct above all. We expect our coaches and staff to teach and uphold those principles, while acting in a professional manner at all times.”
The incident is under review by the PIAA, the state agency which governs scholastic sports in Pennsylvania. Melissa Mertz, associate executive director of the PIAA, reports that the state agency is currently awaiting a report from the school district regarding its findings and any subsequent disciplinary actions taken, if any.
The District One Committee, which oversees scholastic sports in Southeastern Pennsylvania, will look at the Neshaminy report and determine if any further action is necessary. If the D-1 Committee is not satisfied with the actions taken by the school district, it can convene a hearing of its own and hand down penalties in accordance with Article XIII, Section 9 of the PIAA by-laws.
Those by-laws state that: “A coach who intentionally strikes, bites or kicks a contestant, coach, an official or any other person in attendance at the contest … shall be disqualified by the Regional Panel or District Committee … for a period of not less than one year from the date of either the incident leading to the suspension or the date of the hearing to consider the matter.”
Devine has been teaching in the Neshaminy School District for 15 years and has been the coach of the boys varsity basketball team for ten.
The coach may have been displeased with the game officials because, prior to the foul on Arcidiacono, the Skins had been called for offensive fouls on a pair of possessions in the last minute and a half of the game when the outcome of the contest was still in question.
With Neshaminy trailing 44-39, junior Zach Tredway was called for a charge with 1:22 remaining and senior Shammond Thomas was flagged for the same violation at the 54-second mark.
With 37 seconds left however, sophomore Anthony Papeo hit a 3-pointer that cut the Skins’ deficit to two points. Sent to the line on a foul on Neshaminy sophomore Pat Campbell, Sessa-Reeves hit the first of two free throws. Falcons junior forward Mark Flagg came down with the rebound on the miss and subsequently drew a foul on Neshaminy junior Billy Warren. The flag on the Skins’ 6-6 forward was his fifth personal foul, causing his removal from the game.
Flagg also made one of his free throws, expanding the Falcons’ edge to five. On Neshaminy’s next trip up the court, Arcidiacono drove the lane and hit a one-handed scoop that was subsequently waved off by officials.
That’s when Devine can be seen on camera protesting the call and that’s when the referee can be seen falling to the hardwood.
The double technical assessed the coach gave Pennsbury four shots from the foul line and junior Addison Howard made three of them, sending the score to its final.
“Addy stepped up when he had to and made the free throws,” said Falcons head coach Bill Coleman. “It helped seal a nice win for us.”
Pennsbury (7-2, 4-0 SOL) went on to a 49-42 victory, despite trailing 24-22 at the half and 35-33 after three quarters. The Falcons took control in the fourth period, outscoring the Skins 16-7 in the final frame. Pennsbury has emerged victorious in battles with Neshaminy in five of its last six encounters with the Skins and the Falcons remain unbeaten in the SOL National Conference at 4-0.
Neshaminy (1-7, 0-4) is winless in the SOL and this season has just one victory, a 64-36 triumph over KIPP DuBois Charter in the Deby Recupido Memorial Tournament Dec. 29 on the Skins’ home court.
For Pennsbury, Addison Howard and Mark Flagg scored 15 and 13 points, respectively. Junior Joey Monaghan chipped in with eight points and senior Rob Daly had seven.
Daly capped an 11-4 Falcons’ run to start the fourth quarter with a steal and an ensuing layup that put Pennsbury on top, 44-39 with two minutes remaining in regulation.
“We told Rob to stay in front and that at some point, he would be shown the ball,” added coach Coleman. “We told him to read that and if he sees it to take advantage of the opportunity.”
“We saw that in the scouting reports and we told Rob and he took advantage of it.”
For Neshaminy, Zach Tredway led the Skins with 15 points and Chris Arcidiacono, who was the player called for the charge with 15 seconds left, added 10.
Neshaminy has a game tonight at Pennridge. Skins varsity assistant John Mason will coach the boys varsity basketball team in the battle against the Rams set for 7 p.m. in Perkasie.
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Pennsbury 49, Neshaminy 42
(Jan. 5 at Neshaminy)
Pennsbury 11 11 11 16 – 49
Neshaminy 4 20 11 7 – 42
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