IRVINGTON — Gina Maher didn’t want the day to be about her. She never really wants any day to be about her. For the legendary Irvington coach, it’s about the kids. It’s always about the kids.
Unfortunately for Maher, after winning her 600th career game, there was no way that the crowd, her team, or the opposing team would let that happen. Maher is the first Section 1 basketball coach — boys or girls — to reach the milestone.
“There are a lot of really, really good coaches out there; some don’t coach as long as I do, some don’t have as many gifted players as I’ve had,” Maher said after a 58-29 win against Rye Neck on Friday. “I think the staff I’ve had … helped build the program. It’s not just one person.”
Maher was gracious in defeat. After leading 20-8 in the first quarter, Maher pulled her starters for the rest of the game; giving her reserves big minutes, while keeping the score from getting too out of hand.
When given the opportunity to play more than just a few minutes, Irvington’s second string built chemistry — often passing more than 10 times before shooting. It seemed almost as if the team wouldn’t have shot at all, had it not been for the shot clock.
“I’m so happy that I get a chance to show what I can do, and I’m really happy for (coach Maher),” said sophomore Andie Regan, who scored a team-high nine points off the bench. “I think some people say that we can’t go as far as people think we can, but I think we’re going to do really well this year and we’re going to go really far.”
Irvington (14-1) has won four consecutive Class B state titles under Maher, and is currently ranked No. 1 in the state.
As usual, Maher quickly turned the focus to, well, everyone but her: to the crowd, who had balloons, signs and flowers waiting for her; to her family, who watched on as a historic career added another memorable moment; and of course, to the team, which had every player score in the milestone win.
“I didn’t score anything tonight, I didn’t get any rebounds,” Maher said. “I’ve been blessed. I’ve been blessed with longevity, I’ve been blessed with coaches who are amazing to work with, I’ve had great (athletic directors), and I’ve had an amazing group of young women to coach.”
It was perfectly fitting that Irvington hosted its 10th annual “Girls and Women in Sports Day” on Friday, a celebratory event that pays tribute to all of the women who have succeeded in sports since Title IX was passed in 1972.
The Bulldogs had the date planned well before Maher approached the milestone.
“It’s so cool how far girls have come in sports today,” said Regan, who is in her first year on the varsity. “(Coach Maher) is a huge role model to everyone in this town. She just shares so much with us; I’m so lucky to have a coach like her.”
Of all the people Maher acknowledged, the one that stood out was her husband.
“My husband allowed me to coach in days when a lot of husbands didn’t let wives coach or didn’t get enthusiastic about it, and he did,” Maher said. “He’s really the one who put me on the path and encouraged me and had me do it.”
All media from this game was taken by Mike Zacchio of The Journal News. Scroll down to see more photos from the game.
Best of the rest: Naya Williams scored 34 points for Masters in a 51-21 win against Greenwich Academy. … Nyack eighth-grader Danielle Larochelle scored a game-high 15 points in a 48-41 upset of Tappan Zee, which had not lost in 2014. … Suffern sophomore Liz Trojan had 17 points and 17 rebounds in a 48-34 victory against East Ramapo. … Julie Kellett scored 23 points for Holy Child in a 57-54 win at Hopkins. … Syndey Cardoza scored 13 points for North Salem in a 46-20 win at Putnam Valley. … Val Arbuco and Ryan Doherty each scored eight points for Albertus Magnus in a 42-41 win at Nanuet. … Olivia Burden scored 19 points for North Rockland in a 59-48 win at Clarkstown North. … Jessie Neugebauer (21 points), Emma Daly (16 points) and Sam Alicandri (11 points, 16 rebounds) led Pearl River to a 74-44 win against Mount Vernon. … Imani Tilford scored 19 points for Woodlands in a 62-49 loss against Bishop Loughlin. … Shayna Davner scored 23 points in a 54-46 win against Pelham on Senior Night. … Shaina Iton scored 14 points for Peekskill in a 62-47 win against Medgar Evers.
MILESTONE WATCH: Even though we don’t cover them, shout-out to Lourdes junior Emily Ferreri, who scored her 1,000th career point in the Warriors rout of Arlington today. … Imani Tilford is now seven points shy of the program scoring record (1,789 — Porsha Postell, 2009 grad). Woodlands doesn’t play again until Feb. 6, when it travels to Port Chester. Shayna Davner is now four points shy of her 1,000th career point. Edgemont plays at Eastchester on Wednesday in its final game of the regular season — I will be staffing the game. … Kristen McLaughlin is now 18 points shy of her 1,000th career point. Tappan Zee’s next game is at Byram Hills on Monday.
Friday, January 31
New Rochelle 53, Dobbs Ferry 45
Irvington 58, Rye Neck 29
Nyack 48, Tappan Zee 41
Hen Hud 58, Lakeland 43
North Rockland 59, Clarkstown North 48
Croton-Harmon 35, Keio 31
North Salem 46, Putnam Valley 20
Fox Lane 45, Pleasantville 35
Holy Child 57, Hopkins 54
Albertus Mangus 42, Nanuet 41
Pearl River 74, Mount Vernon 44
Somers 57, Brewster 41
Edgemont 54, Pelham 46
Poughkeepsie 44, Pawling 29
Lourdes 70, Arlington 49
NYC vs. Westchester Showcase at Woodlands
Peekskill 61, Medgar Evers 47
Bishop Loughlin 62, Woodlands 49