By Kyle LoJacono
A few weeks after becoming the first Wiregrass Ranch girls basketball player to score 1,500 career points, Kelly McCaffrey is continuing to accomplish program firsts.
The senior guard and team captain was picked to play in the Florida Athletic Coaches Association (FACA) all-star game on March 17 at Indian River State College in Port St. Lucie, becoming the first girls basketball player in the Bulls’ six-year history to earn the honor.
“Coach (John Gant) called me and I was really shocked because I wasn’t expecting it,” McCaffrey said. “I was just so happy they thought I deserved it.”
Gant was equally pleased.
“From a performance standpoint I thought she deserved to be in the game, so I was very happy to get that call,” Gant said. He then added, “I called her and told her to call back with her parents and had her put it on speaker phone so they could all hear it at once.”
Gant became Wiregrass Ranch’s coach this year. He brought in a new offense and defense, which McCaffrey readily took to.
“She scored over 500 points this season alone, and the beauty of it is she scored these points within our system,” Gant said. “It wasn’t like we had to get Kelly the ball and everybody else get out of her way. To her credit she accepted the new system from me as a coach and worked with it. … She didn’t have to be set aside as special because in her mind she was just a part of the team like everyone else.”
McCaffrey scored 19.2 points per contest this year, finishing as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,575.
The 5-foot-9 McCaffrey did more than just pour in points. She also led the Sunshine Athletic Conference by pulling down 8.9 rebounds while dishing out 4.1 assists and recording 4.4 steals.
“I always tried to be more than a scorer,” McCaffrey said. “Winning basketball games takes more than just points.”
One of McCaffrey’s major contributions never ends up in stat sheets — her leadership.
“There would be times when maybe we’d be falling behind in a game and she wouldn’t let anyone put their heads down,” Gant said. “Then she’d get a steal or make a big play. She wouldn’t always necessarily score, but maybe make a great assist that would give us that spark to get back into a game. From a leadership standpoint she was key.
“I think a lot of people expected us to be down this year losing a lot of points from seniors leaving and the structure changing,” Gant contributed. “For her to be that kind of all-around player and superstar and lift her teammates, we just could not have had the success this year without Kelly McCaffrey.”
McCaffrey started playing basketball because all her siblings did and her dad was a coach. She also participated in softball until her sophomore year when she decided to focus on the winter sport.
“Basketball is so fast paced and always something going on,” McCaffrey said. “To me it’s so much fun.”
McCaffrey helped Wiregrass Ranch reach its only two postseason appearances in program history in 2009 and 2010. The Bulls went 76-34 during her time with the program.
Wiregrass Ranch went 20-8 this year, falling in the Class 7A-District 9 semifinals. McCaffrey’s time at Wiregrass Ranch ended sooner than she would have liked, but she said she will always look back at her four years in high school with fond memories.
“It’s been awesome,” McCaffrey said. “All my best friends I met playing here. I had two great coaches who helped me a lot, and so did the assistants. I think they all helped me become a better player. It makes me sad that it’s over.”
McCaffrey plans to attend Santa Fe College in Gainesville.
“That’s where I want to go to school, so that’s why I want to play there too,” said McCaffrey, who plans on studying telecommunications.
Gant would like her college plans to have started in a few more years.
“It’s a pleasure to have coached her,” Gant said. “I just wish I had her and her parents back next year because they’re a first-class family and a credit to Wiregrass Ranch.”
–All stats as recorded to Maxpreps.com by coaches.
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