Lorraine Moylan and Gina Maher have a lot in common.
Both are incredibly successful girls basketball coaches and inductees into the Basketball Coaches Association of New York Hall of Fame, with Maher being inducted in 2010 and Moylan in 2011.
They’re also the only two girls' basketball coaches in Section 1 with 500-plus wins. Both also wear wide grins and speak in nothing but compliments when talking about the other.
The one thing they don’t match up on is their memory on when they first became friends. For Maher, she remembers meeting Moylan in the mid-80s, while Moylan was the head coach at Albertus Magnus High School. Moylan remembers watching one of Maher’s teams play in the states.
“I wanted to have teams just like hers because they always played real hard and did really well,” Moylan said, adding that she admires Maher’s teams for their uptempo style, as well as how team-oriented and classy they are.
However long they’ve been friends, they’ve been coaching against each other for upwards of 20 years, and at this point they know what to expect from a team led by the other.
“I expect them to play really, really hard,” Maher said. “I expect them to play great defense. I expect them to execute. I think she’s a fantastic coach. I think she’s one of the best coaches who’s ever been in Section 1.”
On Wednesday, the two legendary coaches faced off at Irvington, with Maher’s Bulldogs dominating much of the game en route to a 65-49 win. The two teams used to be in the same league and played yearly, but realignment separated them.
“We always had great games,” Maher said. “It was disappointing when they weren’t on the schedule every year.”
Still, the two schools try to play regularly. Maher said the teams have fierce battles. For Moylan and Pearl River, it’s also about seeing some of the top local competition.
“They’re a great team and you want to play the best,” Moylan said. “If you want to get good you’ve got to play the best and they’re one of the best in Section 1. It’s good for us.”
Moylan added she thinks it’s good for her team to see an opponent like Irvington and observe “what real good teams do, how they handle themselves, how they defend, how they go to the basket.”
And while the two winningest girl’s coaches in Section 1 history certainly know each other on the court, they’re also quite familiar off it.
“She’s just a great person and always finds the nicest thing to say to you and make you feel good,” Moylan said.
She added that Maher has done a lot for girl’s basketball locally, including organizing local summer leagues for girls.
Maher said Moylan is simply a great person.
“She has a great sense of humor. She works hard and has a passion for girls basketball,” Maher said. “She’s a mother and wife. She’s got the whole package. She’s the best.”
They may not share the same story of the origins of their friendship, but they do share a love of basketball.
“We have fierce battles on the court and we’re good friends off the court,” Maher said. “That’s what sports are about.”