E.A. Sports Today

White Plains takes top spot

McGuirk’s big game leads White Plains to No. 1 in Class 4A Area 11, beats Saks to avoid coin toss, will host boys tournament

White Plains' Michael McGuirk had another big game in Saks' gym Tuesday night.

White Plains’ Michael McGuirk had another big game in Saks’ gym Tuesday night.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

If there’s one gym Michael McGuirk enjoys playing in on the road as much as he does his own it’s the one he played in Tuesday night.

The White Plains junior had a big night in Saks’ gym for the second year in a row, pumping in 34 points as the Wildcats scored a 71-56 victory that secured the Class 4A Area 11 regular-season title and hosting rights for the boys area tournament.

There’s just something about the building that brings out some of the best in McGuirk’s game. In last year’s area tournament here, he hit three straight 3s in one stretch to help the Wildcats beat Jacksonville in their opener, then he went off for 18 in the first half of their title-clinching win over Saks.

In this latest appearance, he was 11 of 17 from the field and hit 11 of 15 free throws. He had 21 in the second half as the Wildcats pulled away from a 29-26 halftime lead created by Eli Hightower’s 3-pointer near the end of the half.

“I don’t know what it is about this gym,” McGuirk said. “The goals, the rims, give you everything. I love the rims and the way the nets look.

“I just love coming here to play. I play better here than anywhere else. No doubt.”

McGuirk looked as comfortable as ever in this win-or-flip game. White Plains coach Chris Randall put a few more plays in the script to get McGuirk the ball – it mattered not the Wildcats were without guard Jerod Guthrie – and he delivered.

Saks jumped on the visitors early, but McGuirk scored eight straight for his team in the second quarter to bring it back. Then he had its first nine of the third quarter to help stretch the lead.

“Coach set up a couple new plays for me, gave me some more touches,” McGuirk said. “We’ve been jacking up way too many 3s lately; sometimes they fall and if they don’t fall than we’re (dead). They just set up some more plays to give me the ball inside and it worked out.”

McGuirk also had 12 rebounds, seven second-chance points and 20 points in the paint.

“I think we’ve done a poor job of getting him the basketball and we’re going to make a concerted effort to get him more touches,” Randall said. “We had a great practice last night and that was really a great one to get Michael Scott going, to love on him, to build his confidence up.

“That was part of the game plan, him taking a lot more shots. He was a lot more aggressive, a lot more confident.”

White Plains will now host the boys’ area tournament; there would have been a coin toss had Saks won. Saks is now the No. 2. Jacksonville and Cleburne County will have a coin toss Thursday to determine 3 and 4.

White Plains 71, Saks 56

WHITE PLAINS – Michael McGuirk 11-17 11-15 34, Eli Hightower 4-12 0-0 11, Lawrence Jackson 4-6 2-2 10, Macey Carr 3-5 0-0 7, Kevin Carr 1-6 2-2 4, Murphy Doss 1-1 1-1 3, Peyton Morgan 0-0 2-2 2, Quez Wyatt 0-0 0-0 0, Brett Beaver 0-0 0-0 0, Dylan McCareeth 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-47 18-22 71.

SAKS – Jalen Britt 6-11 5-6 19, Quin Smith 5-9 1-2 12, Landun Peters 1-4 1-2 4, Alfonza Ward 2-5 1-4 6, Demetrius Powell 2-7 1-2 5, Tra Hughley 1-4 1-4 3, Darien Briskey 1-5 0-0 2, Malik Burns 1-4 0-0 3, Quay McCord 0-0 0-0 0, Jalen Wynn 1-1 0-0 2, Demario Burnett 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-49 10-20 56.

White Plains 11 18 23 19 — 71
Saks 15 11 11 19 — 56

3-point goals: White Plains 5-13 (McGuirk 1-2, Hightower 3-9, Jackson 0-1, M. Carr 0-1); Saks 6-17 (Britt 2-6, Smith 1-3, Peters 1-2, Ward 1-3, Hughley 0-1, Burns 1-2). Rebounds: White Plains 39 (McGuirk 12, M. Carr 8); Saks 19 (Hughley 7). Fouled out: Jackson. Total fouls: White Plains 21, Saks 18. Officials: Holmes, Wood, Walker.

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