(continued...)

After four years as assistant coach, two of which ended with the Mules winning the Centennial Conference championship, McClary left Muhlenberg to coach alongside legendary Morgan Wootten at DeMatha High School in Washington, D.C.; an offer he couldn’t pass up. “Honestly, nothing less than this opportunity could have gotten me to leave Muhlenberg. I loved it there,” said McClary. McClary spent one year at DeMatha, then continued to broaden his contacts, moving to nearby Bishop O’Connell (Va.) High School to coach alongside Joe Wootten. From there he moved to Division I Coastal Carolina University as top assistant under Pete Strickland before finally settling as head coach at Marymount University in Arlington, Va.

McClary’s move to the Division III level opened the opportunity for his team to participate in the Scotty Wood Tournament. “I can remember many years of coaching in the Scotty Wood Tournament. It was the first game of the year and the excitement was unbelievable,” recalled McClary. “The opportunity to play your first game at home in front of an amazing crowd of students, alumni and the Allentown community is a big deal. I cannot think of a better place to start the season.”

The two longtime friends did not coach against each other in the first round of the tournament. But as the events of Friday unfolded, first with McClary’s Marymount team beating Western New England and then Madeira’s Muhlenberg squad beating Hartwick handily, it became clear that the two coaches would not only face each other, but face each other in the final of the tournament.

“The possibility of playing Coach Madeira’s team makes me very nervous,” said McClary before the tournament. “I know that we are expected to lose; it’s the Muhlenberg tradition. There is a loyalty value that I have for Coach Madeira that can’t be described. I owe him so much for giving me my first opportunity in coaching. On the other hand, it is so exciting to come back to my alma mater and compete with Coach Madeira. There are definitely two sides of the coin: I owe Coach and respect him incredible amounts, but I want to win.”

In the last five years McClary coached at Muhlenberg, the Mules never lost the Scotty Wood Tournament. McClary wasn’t about to let his Scotty Wood Tournament winning streak go down the drain, but Madeira had a different plan. “I have mixed emotions,” commented Madeira. “It’s hard to play against such a good friend, but I am happy that both our teams made it to the finals.”

After McClary came out of the locker room before the game, he crossed midcourt to sit on the visiting team’s bench at Memorial Hall for the first time. As he walked past the home bench, the two coaches and friends exchanged smiles, but when the ball was thrown up for the tipoff, it was just another game. The friendship was left behind for a few hours while both men desperately tried to lead their team to the championship. The game was tied at 29 near the end of a back-and-forth first half before the Saints erupted for 12 points in the final 2:22 to take a 41-29 lead into the locker room. Muhlenberg would get as close as three points on two occasions, and once had the ball with a chance to tie, but could never completely eliminate the deficit and wound up losing, 78-71.

Although disappointed about the loss, Madeira congratulated McClary with the utmost class. “Climbing to the top always means pushing someone else down. I never would want to bring negativity to Muhlenberg or Coach Madeira, but winning is always good. I was proud of our boys,” concluded McClary.

On Nov. 20, McClary walked out of Memorial Hall with his Scotty Wood Tournament streak intact. A little ironic? Maybe. Fun? Definitely. The history behind the two coaches brought a little extra flavor to this year’s tournament; flavor that won’t be soon forgotten!

    17
previous page CONTENTS next page