Geoff Smith | From the Baseline: McGuire puts himself in WMass basketball lore with finals performance
The perks of being a sportswriter are plentiful, but high up on that list is getting the chance for a front-row view of history as it happens. Saturday afternoon, that's exactly what everyone in attendance at the Curry Hicks Cage got when Drury's Scott McGuire went off for 45 points in the team's win over Baystate Academy in the Western Massachusetts Division IV final.
McGuire's performance will go down in the annals of Western Mass. basketball lore. He scored in so many ways, and at times was carrying his team to its second-straight WMass crown. But for as much as the points were mesmerizing — and there were some dandy finishes by McGuire throughout — what really stood out the most was how aggressive McGuire got on the glass.
I have yet to see any official rebounding numbers from the game, but McGuire had to have pulled down at least 15 boards, with many of them coming on the offensive glass. As MassLive's Gage Nutter tweeted out late in the third quarter: "Scott McGuire might have more offensive rebounds than some kids have points right now."
The name of the game in basketball is to outscore your opponent. But when a player can't get going in the manner they are used to, lesser players shrink, and great ones go and find solutions. McGuire's solution was to start attacking the boards.
One big rebound came in overtime, when McGuire crashed the glass and got a putback to draw his team within one. With the final scoring difference between the teams just three points, those types of baskets matter.
A lot of things have to go right in order for a basketball team to buy in for a season. Having your star player be relentless when it comes to the little things goes a long way to convincing everyone else to put forth their maximal effort.
But back to the points quickly. Watching Scott work yesterday, it's apparent why he's the No. 2 all-time leading scorer in county boys basketball history. He can get it done from anywhere on the floor.
In the modern basketball world, seeing a 45-point performance immediately invokes the question of: "How many 3-pointers did they make?"
What if you heard the total was one?
McGuire's cutting into the lane was spectacular Saturday, and even when Baystate Academy figured out a way to put someone in front of him, McGuire got more acrobatic to get the finish. One play from the first half stood out as the example. On a drive to the lane, McGuire went up as a defender closed in. He double-clutched the ball, hung in the air, and still got his shot off and through the net. There are only so many players who can do that in Western Mass.
And like any great scorer, McGuire recognized the defense and found the exploits.
"Their defense was spread out. I couldn't get my 3 going, so I just tried to play inside," McGuire told the Eagle's Mike Walsh after the game. "They were busy focusing on the ball, so I did a lot of cutting."
Before Saturday, if anyone would have asked me the one performance from the Cage that has stood up, I would go with Peyton Steinman's semifinal performance for the PHS girls against Longmeadow in 2017. Now, I'll add Scott McGuire to that list.
Ever find a program from some old event and started thinking about what things were like back then?
For some reason, there's a Taconic boys basketball program from 2005-06 kicking around the sports department. It was dug up in the summer while some deep-cleaning was going on.
The head coach is a familiar name in Bill Heaphy. Can you guess who his JV coach was that year?
Current Taconic girls basketball coach Matt Mickle.
Who could have guessed then that 14 years later both coaches would be running Western Mass.-winning programs.
You hear about coaching trees all the time in collegiate and professional sports, but what about at the high-school level? Does Heaphy have his own tree now?
Something to ponder as time continues to progress.
The coronavirus dominates the news currently, and probably for good reason. I'm no virologist, though, so I can't tell you much about it.
What I am watching, however, is how the virus threat is going to change sports media access.
Fans of American sports sometimes take for granted how often we hear from our favorite players. Reporters entering locker rooms after games is standard operating procedure. But as the virus threat escalates, teams and leagues are changing how reporters can access players for interviews.
While this is a necessary step if leagues are trying to curtail the spread of the virus, I hope that the access eventually returns to normal.
As a fan of European soccer, it gets frustrating not hearing from players after games. Instead of reporters getting access to the locker room, interviews are typically done in a "mixed-zone," where players walk through and reporters can try to get them to stop. Some athletes don't, while some do.
It would be a shame if that became commonplace in the states.
Geoff Smith can be reached at email@example.com, @GSmith_Eagle on Twitter and 413-496-6254.
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