BARDONIA – Shortly after news of Joe McGuinness’ death broke earlier in the day, Section 1 offered to let Albertus Magnus postpone the boys basketball outbracket game against Riverside.
The offer was turned down. It wasn’t something that McGuinness would have wanted.
In the end, the Falcons came out on fire early, holding Riverside to only two points in the first quarter and without a field goal until early in the second quarter. The end result was a convincing 78-49 win.
“I thought we came down with some extra fire, and I’m sure that was Joe looking down from heaven on us,” Albertus Magnus head coach Pat McFadden said. “The whole atmosphere of the school sunk. I think Joe is big part of Albertus, but it’s past Albertus. He’s a big person for anyone who’s met him in basketball.”
McGuinness lost his battle with cancer on Friday morning. He was 56 years old.
After an excellent playing career at Clarkstown South, McGuinness played collegiately at Army. From there, he went on to play professionally in Ireland, and then went on to coach both the Albertus Magnus girls basketball team and the boys basketball team to sectional titles.
“Joe’s loss is very big to the whole Rockland athletic community. He’s loved and respected by the whole basketball community,” Albertus Magnus principal Christopher Power said. “My daughters played for him, and they loved Joe McGuinness. He knew the game, but he could also get it across to the kid. He wore his heart on his sleeve, and my daughters loved to play for him.”
McGuinness’ two sons, Patrick and Conor, are both excellent players in their own right. Patrick is currently a junior captain at Bridgewater State University, and Conor is a freshman at Adelphi after a prolific career at Clarkstown South.
On Wednesday, battling through his illness, McGuinness went to see Conor play at Adelphi. According to Power, he was given a standing ovation from the crowd.
Tim Gavan, an assistant coach on the team who also coached the girls soccer team to a sectional title in the fall, said that he saw McGuinness a week ago at a boys basketball game.
“I sent him a text before Christmas wishing him a happy new year,” Gavan said. “Even though he couldn’t talk, he said how much he appreciated my text. That’s the type of person he was; he always took time to go out of his way to say thank you.”
McGuinness will be inducted into the Rockland County Sports Hall of Fame later this year. One major supporter for his nomination was his old college coach at West Point, Mike Krzyzewski, who wrote a letter of recommendation for his former player.
“As a player for me, he was as good of a defensive guard that I had at Army,” Krzyzewski wrote. “As coach and athletic director at Albertus Magnus and Tappan Zee High School, he did outstanding jobs. His love of the game and love for teaching youngsters showed up in the best possible manner in both institutions.”
After the game, McFadden said he tried to teach his team some life lessons from McGuinness’ death.
“It’s an emotional time,” McFadden said. “The team will go to the wake, the funeral and all of these very sad things that make basketball seem pretty small. And yet, we’re going to try to balance it. You try to make some life points with the basketball.”
It’s exactly what coach Joe would have done.
There will be a wake for McGuinness at Albertus Magnus High School’s Tom Collins Gymnasium on Sunday, February 14th from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., as well as on Sunday, February 15th, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The funeral will be held at St. Augustine’s Church in New City on Tuesday, February 16 at 10 a.m.
Player of the game: Justin Bullock, Albertus Magnus. The junior forward made it rain three-pointers all game, hitting five to finish with 21 points. He also got his first dunk in highlight-reel fashion, a tomahawk slam on a breakaway following a steal.
Turning point: After largely being shut out in the first quarter, Riverside went on a run in the latter part of the second quarter to cut the deficit to 28-19. Albertus Magnus opened up the second half with a three from Bullock and went on a 15-2 run to put the game out of reach.
Stat line: For Albertus Magnus, Collin Crispino also finished with 21 points, with Ed Hall adding 15 points, all on three-pointers. … In total, Albertus Magnus had 12 three-pointers. … Dontae Brisco led Riverside with 16 points, with Edmund Kwaw adding 14 points.
Quotable: “We found out that he passed away during school; it was a rough morning for everyone,” Bullock said. “Coming into the game, we all had that feeling in our hearts that we were going to do this for him. That’s exactly what we did.”