Some days are about more than the game. When you’ve coached as long as Jack Agostino, past and present can converge in memorable ways. The Amityville High School boys basketball coach enjoyed one of those moments on Friday, Jan. 15.
It started with a tinge of disappointment. The school had hoped to retired the No. 12 jersey of former hoops star A.J. Price. A rookie with the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, Price was in the area to play the New Jersey Nets that night.
But for the second time in a month, the ceremony was put on hold because, Agostino said, the Pacers wouldn’t allow Price to miss the shoot around.
“His coach will not allow him to be late to the shoot around,’’ Agostino wrote in an email. “They love taking rookies’ money.”
Turns out the afternoon game at home against rival Westhampton had a storyline all its own. The Warriors rolled to an 86-50 win, earning Agostino his 400th career win and locking up a spot in the Suffolk Class A playoffs.
Agostino is 400-92 in 23 seasons at Amityville and the Warriors clinched a playoff berth for the 23rd straight season, each remarkable feats in their own right. (Hempstead’s Ted Adams became Nassau’s winningest boys basketball coach in December with his 480th win.)
“My players kept hugging me and congratulated me,’’ Agostino said. “That was a special moment.”
But the day was far from over. Price gave Agostino 500 tickets to distribute for the Pacers-Nets game that night.
Price won a pair of state championships at Amityville, and lost in the state title game as a senior in 2004. He was a two-time Newsday Suffolk Player of the Year before going on to a turbulent but fruitful career at the University of Connecticut. Indiana drafted Price with the 52nd pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.
So Price is someone the entire Amityville community admires and roots for.
After Amityville’s big win on Friday, it was time to see Price do his best. A large contingent journeyed to the Meadowlands to see the point guard. The rest of the night? Better to let Agostino sum it up.
“The Nets Pacer game was even better because so many of my former players were in attendance,” Agostino said. “Billy Kretz, Richard Payton, Eugene Nottingham and Trevor Mcintosh were all there supporting A.J. We are so proud of him. He still has great relationships with his guys from Amityville. A.J. played real well, exciting the fans with a couple of dazzling plays. He ended up with 8 points, 4 assists and a couple spectacular passes. We all hung out after the game and shared stories with A.J. and his parents. This day was a gift from God. I’m truly a blessed man.”