Tyler McGarry has fond memories of Wilkes University’s Marts Center. The former Pittston Area basketball star helped lead his Patriots to an upset of GAR there in 2014.
On Wednesday night, McGarry returned to the Marts Center as a key member on the Misericordia University men’s basketball team. McGarry scored seven points in a win over the Colonels. A freshman at Misericordia, McGarry has been balancing playing golf and basketball over his first several months on campus.
McGarry didn’t get a chance to finish his high school basketball career. After suffering a broken ankle in Pittston Area’s final week of the 2015 season, McGarry was forced to watch his teammates from the bench.
Later, he was medically cleared to play two days prior to the 46th annual Dr. George P. Moses Wyoming Valley Conference Senior All-Star Classic. Lo and behold, McGarry would earn Most Valuable Player honors after scoring 24 points. Now, the former Wyoming Valley Conference star is doing great things for the Cougars.
Heading into the Saturday, Jan. 16 matchup with Manhattanville College, McGarry has appeared in all 14 games for the Cougars. He’s started four of them and is currently averaging almost seven points per contest.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” McGarry said of his time at Misericordia so far. “As soon as I get out of class I head to the gym and shoot around. I’m still busy, which I like, but I have a lot more time to get things done.”
McGarry started four games for the Cougars in late November — against Summit, Geneseo, Lenanon Valley and Susquehanna. In those four games, McGarry averaged 27 minutes per game and scored an average of nearly 10 points per contest.
“I’ve definitely seen myself get a lot better because of the tough competition,” McGarry said. “Coach works us very hard at practice every day. There are no easy days. We’re all getting better.”
Starting those games early in the season helped McGarry build the confidence he needed. The Cougars went 2-2 in the four games McGarry started. Misericordia currently sits at 8-6 overall with a 2-1 conference record.
“I enjoy starting and getting the minutes,” he said. “We played a lot of good games. Our exhibition schedule is so tough. We didn’t have any cakewalks.”
In a team that features a batch of upperclassmen, McGarry was taken in right away, he said. Many of his teammates have shown him the ropes as a freshman. Heading into the season, McGarry thought he would be limited in his minutes. After being put on the floor, his confidence has built.
“A lot of the older guys kind of brought us freshman in and they really welcomed me,” he said. “That made it a lot easier to play out here. Bringing me in gave me more confidence.”
One of McGarry’s biggest reasons for going to Misericordia was then-basketball and golf coach Trevor Woodruff. Woodruff, however, left the Cougars to become the women’s basketball coach at the University of Scranton. Long-time Misericordia assistant coach Willie Chandler took over head coaching duties for the season.
Chandler sees McGarry as a big threat already in his freshman season.
“He’s a stretch of the floor and he’s one of our better shooters,” Chandler said. “He has great size and he has a quick trigger. I don’t mind him shooting the ball at all.”
With a 6-5 frame, McGarry will have to work on his strength down the road, Chandler said.
“By the time next year rolls around he’s going to be much better inside and rebounding the ball and being more aggressive,” Chandler said. “He’s playing with a lot of upperclassmen right now and he’s already shown a lot of improvements.”
Balancing golf and basketball
Those who don’t know about McGarry’s basketball prowess, might be more familiar with the former Pittston Area star from his talents on the golf course.
McGarry was crowned the PIAA District 2 golf champion in October 2014. He’s won several tournaments in the Wyoming Valley and is currently one of the leaders on the Cougars’ golf team.
In September, McGarry earned medalist honors after shooting a 77 against FDU-Florham at Irem Temple. He would later finish 15th at the Ursinus Fall Invitational. At the AGA College Coal Scuttle, McGarry’s 76 at the Country Club of Scranton put Misericordia in fourth place out of six teams. McGarry and teammate Zach Mulhern, who is from Exeter, tied for fourth individually with a 154 over two days.
Mulhern played Division 1 golf at Temple University in the past.
“He helped me along the way,” McGarry said. “Working out with him we had a successful fall season.”
With his love for golf, McGarry is studying sports management at Misericordia and hopes to open a golf training facility down the road.
“I really fell in love with golf, recently,” he said.
McGarry is the son of Colleen McGarry, Pittston. McGarry is also the grandson of Alice McGarry, Pittston.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick