E.A. Sports Today

Randall reflective

White Plains coach saddened after Wildcats’ 67-59 loss to Handley in Class 4A sub-region play

White Plains coach Chris Randall stands with his team during pre-game introductions Tuesday night. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

Tuesday scores
Clay Central 63, Mortimer Jordan 58
Coosa Christian 58, Spring Garden 51
Glencoe 78, Weaver 63
Handley 67, White Plains 59
Oxford 74, Albertville 52
Piedmont 60, Wellborn 49
Sacred Heart 102, Ragland 65
Saks 60, Hokes Bluff 45
Scottsboro 58, Alexandria 57
Talladega 64, Corner 44

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

White Plains basketball coach Chris Randall leaned back on the couch in the locker room and reflected on a season that ended much earlier than the Wildcats would have liked.

The Wildcats had just taken a 67-59 loss to Handley in the Class 4A Northeast subregionals that stopped them short of a return trip to Jacksonville State.

It was a tough one to take, and Randall was reflective after the players had cleared the room.

“I’ve been doing this 21 years,” he began. “Losing don’t bother me. I am so sad it’s over; I’m so sad. No. 1, I don’t get to coach these seniors again. It’s not the fact that we lose; I can deal with losing. I hate the fact I’m going to get up and there’s not going to be a hill to climb, there’s not going to be another battle to fight.

“And this team is mine. This is my team. It’s my guys. I love them and if you’ve got your hands in the huddle then I really, really care about what you think. If you don’t have your hands in the huddle then you’re not mine. This is the last time this team is going to be together like that and it’s really, really sad.

“It’s not the fact we lost, it’s the fact it’s over and at 3 clock tomorrow were not going to be getting ready to go try to fight a battle and climb a mountain together. I hate it.”

Handley did a nice job bottling up White Plains’ Michael McGuirk with three different defenders. The Lee University-bound senior who literally became the face of the program scored 26 points to once again lead the Wildcats’ offense, but the Tigers (23-5) made him work for them. They held him to six points in the middle two quarters as they fought back to tie the game.

“It was just a battle,” McGuirk said. “They were stuck on me like glue. I tried to get them off of me. It just didn’t fall for us tonight.”
McGuirk scored nearly 1,500 points in his White Plains career. He ended the season shooting better than 50 percent from the field, better than 45 percent from 3-point range and better than 80 percent from the line.

“It was an honor to watch Michael Scott play basketball,” Randall said. “He’s great to coach and just as fun to watch.”

The Wildcats (23-7) were in position often to keep the season going. They had an eight-point lead at halftime and, Randall said, “couldn’t play any better,” but he never believed the margin was enough. When Handley opened the second half with a five-point possession, he knew the game was on.

The game was tied at 44 after three quarters. The Wildcats led 49-46 with 6:20 to play, but the Tigers went on a 13-2 run McGuirk said they just couldn’t answer.

“Our guys never thought we were going to lose,” Randall said. “To the last buzzer they fought and they guarded and they loved each other. It was one of the most rewarding seasons I’ve ever had because of the way they acted and the way they treated each other.”

This jumper in the fourth quarter is the final shot of Michael McGuirk’s stellar White Plains career. (Photo by B.J. Franklin/GungHo Photos)

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