E.A. Sports Today

Taking one for the team

Celebrated White Plains senior McGuirk yields the Senior Night floor to his senior teammates

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Chris Randall was in a quandary. He has six seniors on his White Plains basketball roster and the rules of the game allow five starting spots for the Wildcats’ Senior Night game.

In keeping with the tradition of the day the Wildcats coach wanted to start five seniors. But how do you not start your best player who is one of the six? And if you do start the best player you risk hurting the feelings of another senior who may not be as heralded but has worked just as hard and would be denied the reward of starting in his final home game. Starting all six and taking the technical foul just didn’t seem right.

So, on a night that would have been a celebration of his career, Michael Scott McGuirk did what you’d expect Michael Scott McGuirk to do: He took one for the team. To no one’s surprise, he volunteered to sit in order to give the other less-prominent seniors the honor of starting the final regular-season home game of their careers.

“Coach just called us in his office and he said we’ve got a problem: We’ve got six seniors and we can only start five,” McGuirk said. “I said you don’t have to start me, I don’t really care. Everybody knows who I am anyway.

“Andrew (McCarter) and Spidey (Jaylen Jackson) know. Andrew doesn’t get much playing time and he’s a senior, he deserves to get his name called out. They deserve to get their name called out (and) everybody cheering for them; it feels good.”

It was the first time since early in his sophomore season McGuirk was not in the Wildcats’ starting lineup. Instead, the lineup that opened the game for the Wildcats on Coach Richard Madden Court was fellow seniors Jackson, McCarter, Peyton Morgan, Dylan McCareeth and Brett Beaver.

Besides, if all goes as planned McGuirk will have plenty of other opportunities to start a final home game — two in next week’s area tournament the Wildcats’ host and the Class 4A Northeast subregional if they win the area championship.

McGuirk eventually got in the game and did his usual thing and the sixth-ranked Wildcats went on to beat Faith Christian 71-46, and everyone on the home side was happy.

“Everybody knows who Mike is,” Randall said. “He’s started games for three years. He’s our best player and Mike is all about his buddies. He could care less about the personal stuff. He knew the deal. We’ve got six and five (can play). We let Mike come off the bench and be the sixth man and he loved it.

“Some other guys like Andrew McCarter got a chance to start and he was in double figures for the first time in his life. Nobody’s happier for Andrew than Mike is. That’s what I tell people all the time: As good a player as he is, he’s a better teammate. He knew it was a big deal to those other guys and he was glad to do it.”

Indeed. McCarter has played in most of the Wildcats’ games this season, but had never started and he had never scored more than six points in a varsity game.

“It was unselfish, putting teammates first who don’t play as much, mostly being a really good teammate,” McCarter said. “It all goes back to what coach preaches about unselfish, knowing your part and stuff like that.”

Once McGuirk got in the game It didn’t take him long to get in the flow. He entered with 5:19 left in the first quarter and promptly made a layup, stole the ball at midcourt on the next play and eventually turned it into a nice spinning layup in the line, and then he picked up two rebounds.

He had 13 points in the first quarter and finished with 22 for the game. McCarter was the team’s second-leading scorer in the game with 13 points, including two 3-pointers. McGuirk is convinced even though his gym-class shooting partner has seen limited minutes this season, there will be a time he’ll come in and make a big contribution before the season ends.

“I like coming off the bench, man; you’re not nervous or anything,” McGuirk said. “Not starting takes kind of the jitters out of you. When you come in it’s ‘lets go;’ I’m ready to go.”

McGuirk has always been ready to go, whether he starts or not. He’s closing in on 1,500 career points, but his contribution to the program goes beyond what’s listed in the box score.

“Mike has left his imprint on this program with his work ethic, the way he works on his game,” Randall said. “But the bigger imprint is how he treats his teammates. The freshmen, the sophomores, the guys who set 30 screens for him a night; they’re his biggest fans. He’s one of the guys.

“He understands his role. He has to make the big shots, he has to take the big shots, he has to live and die with that kind of stuff, but, man, he’s good to his people. When I think about Mike it’ll be the big shots and the clutch free throws and the taking charges and that kind of stuff, but the thing I’ll remember most about Mike is what a great teammate he is. When your best player and your captain treats his teammates like that, everything else falls right into place.”

White Plains 71, Faith Christian 46
Riley Camp 5 0-0 14, Jordan Griswould 7 9-18 24, Jameson Adams 0 0-0 0, Seth Cravens 1 0-0 2, Jack Sills 1 0-1 2, Michael Kulick 0 0-0 0, Michael McGraw 0 4-8 4, Julien Key 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 13-27 46.

WHITE PLAINS – Jaylen Jackson 0 2-2 2, Peyton Morgan 2 2-3 7, Dylan McCareeth 0 0-0 0, Justin Foster 2 1-2 5, Andrew McCarter 3 5-6 13, Michael McGuirk 10 1-2 22, Drake Preston 0 0-0 0, Macey Carr 4 3-3 11, Gavin Burrage 1 0-0 3, Brett Beaver 2 0-0 4, Austin Bussey 1 2-2 4. Totals 25 16-20 71.

Faith Christian 7 11 13 15 — 46
White Plains 21 12 22 16 — 71

3-point goals: Faith Christian 5 (Camp 4, Griswould); White Plains 5 (Morgan, McCarter 2, McGuirk, Burrage). Technical fouls: Griswould. Total fouls: Faith Christian 17, White Plains 19. Officials: Miller, Hollingsworth, Petty.

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