WATERTOWN (WBSM) — The Old Rochester Regional High School girls basketball team was on the court Friday night when a longtime high school basketball official collapsed on the court and then later passed away.

According to media reports, Don McGillicuddy, 56, collapsed on the court during the final seconds of the MIAA Division 3 state tournament game between No. 22 Old Rochester and No. 11 Watertown.

McGillicuddy reportedly suffered a heart attack on the court but was revived as fans and students were cleared from the gym. He later suffered a second heart attack in the ambulance on the way to the hospital and passed away.

“It was such a sudden and surreal moment that everyone was stunned,” ORR girls coach Rick Regan told WBSM. “There was immediate care for Don on the court as we cleared the floor to our locker room. The girls all had concern for Don and understood that basketball took a back seat at that time to the situation.”

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Regan said McGillicuddy “did a great job during the game.”

“He clarified any calls and was excellent communicating with me,” he said.

Just moments before McGillicuddy collapsed, he shared a humorous exchange with the ORR coach.

“At one point in the fourth quarter Don told me that I had one timeout left. I asked him if we could get five more and he had a quick laugh about it,” Regan said. “Although it was the first game he had done for us, I had no doubt that he was not only a great official but person as well.”

Joel Watters of Marion is a longtime high school basketball referee and commissioner of the Southeastern Conference. He not only knew McGillicuddy, he was the one who would assign him games.

“I needed 10 more of him,” Watters said. “Nice guy, hard worker, great family man. Very skilled official. He was well liked by everyone who worked with him.”

McGillicuddy was a 24-year veteran referee of high school games.

“The MIAA expresses condolences to the family of the game official, and will continue to provide support to its officials, member schools, student-athletes, coaches, and fans affected by this tragedy,” the MIAA said in a statement provided to media outlets.

Don McGillicuddy via Facebook
Don McGillicuddy via Facebook

Both schools have taken measures to help their students with the traumatic experience.

“Our girls are doing well right now, but our school is providing opportunities for anyone to reach out for counseling if necessary,” Regan said. “We would like to also thank the Watertown High school, their administration and athletic director for helping us work through leaving that night. They did a commendable job under difficult circumstances.”

NBC 10 in Boston reported that according to family members, McGillicuddy would have turned 57 next month and that he is survived by a fiancé, two children and one granddaughter.

The Lady Bulldogs fell 47-28 to Watertown in the game to end their season at 15-7.

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