“Two down, 998 to go,” were the words Lillian McCabe’s JV coach said to her after she scored her first points for the Rye girls’ varsity basketball team in 2007. For McCabe, an eighth-grader called up from JV to deepen the Garnets’ postseason bench, it was a thrilling moment. It also foreshadowed greatness to come.
McCabe, now a senior co-captain, reached the 1,000-point milestone in Rye’s 69-43 win over Harrison January 29. She became just the fourth girls’ basketball player to eclipse the mark in Garnet history. When Rye head coach Mary Henwood called a time-out so her charges could celebrate the moment, McCabe’s team spirit shone through. The senior star wondered aloud how many assists she recorded in the game, and asked her father, John, if he witnessed the dynamic passes she made.
It’s no surprise then that, although McCabe was proud of the achievement, she was most pleased that both Henwood and Catharine Greer, her longtime teammate and co-captain, were there to share the moment. Best of all for McCabe is the fact that Rye is red-hot, having streaked to first place at 12-3 on the strength of 10 wins in 11 games.
McCabe’s love of basketball began when she was a child. Both she and her older sister, Theresa, who was part of Rye’s first-ever girls’ basketball Section championship in 2004, used to wake up early on Saturdays to watch their father’s pick-up games. There they would shoot and practice for two hours while Dad played.
When she was 8, McCabe joined the CYO Resurrection team, as well as an AAU squad. John McCabe coached both teams, and Theresa McCabe was the assistant for each as well.
“I looked up to Theresa,” said Lillian. “Not only was she a very good player, she was a great teacher. She has a tremendous enthusiasm and love for the game.”
It’s obvious that basketball means a lot to McCabe. She has met most of her best friends through the sport, and learned many life lessons from it. At the top of that list is hard work. She thrives on seeing it pay off, and is fueled by a desire to constantly improve and be the best player she be. The senior is a tireless worker, spending many hours with club teams in the offseason, or just honing her game at Rye Rec and the Rye Y. She was also an integral part of the Hudson Valley’s gold medal-winning team at the Empire State Games last summer.
“It’s wonderful as a parent to see your child establish a goal, work hard, and then achieve it,” said John McCabe. “There are so many lessons in basketball that translate into important life skills.”
Basketball isn’t McCabe’s sole passion. She’s an avid reader with a hunger for historical fiction, and says Barnes & Noble is her favorite store. She loves to spend time with her friends and family, and has made High Honor Roll all four years at RHS with a 97.5 average. After being courted by over 30 Division 1 schools, McCabe selected Davidson College and will head there this fall on a basketball scholarship. She is considering a major in psychology.
“Davidson just seemed like an obvious choice,” she said. “They offer such amazing opportunities in the classroom and on the court. It’s a great fit.”
— Melanie Cane