CLARK GRELL For the Lincoln Journal Star
Like many kids, Taylor McCabe and Britt Prince played several sports growing up.
McCabe liked softball and basketball and later became a runner.
Prince made time for basketball, soccer, swimming and softball. She even signed up for flag football at the YMCA. That was fun, too, she says.
It didn’t take long for each to find their calling.
Basketball paved the way for game-winning shots in the driveway, state championships and great college opportunities.
McCabe just completed her high school career at Fremont, where she set several school and state records, and led the Tigers to a Class A state championship. Prince just wrapped up her sophomore year and is on pace to set records, too. What’s more, she has climbed the ladder twice at Pinnacle Bank Arena, helping her Elkhorn North teammates cut down nets.
They were the two best players in the state last season, but their athletic success and competitive prowess went beyond the court, and it’s why McCabe and Prince are the 2022 Journal Star girls co-athletes of the year.
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The paths and parallels between McCabe and Prince are striking.
Both are elite basketball players, and both have spent an incredible amount of time developing into Division I-caliber players. Both are state champions. Both could have focused only on basketball but instead put their running shoes to good use. Both are middle-distance runners.
And both take great pride in helping their schools outside of basketball.
Even their first basketball memories are similar.
McCabe began dribbling a basketball in the basement. When she was very young, Prince rumbled down the steps around the pool table and tetherball pole to shoot baskets in the family’s unfinished basement.
They grew up dribbling and shooting — a lot — but track made McCabe and Prince better basketball players.
“It’s a whole different mindset,” McCabe said of her spring sport. “Just the mental toughness that comes with being tired and you still have to stay focused and you still have to finish and figure out what’s going on around you. It teaches you a lot, honestly, and I never really thought that when I first started out.”
McCabe had her place in state history pretty well set before the state basketball tournament. The Iowa recruit was already the top career scorer in Class A and had set the all-class career record for three-pointers. She is arguably the best shooter to play the game in this state.
And yet McCabe found one more way to add to her legacy over a three-day stretch in Lincoln, leading the Tigers to a Class A state championship one year after they finished state runner-up.
“For basketball, going into freshman year, I honestly knew that we were going to win a state title at some point,” said McCabe, who averaged 21.2 points per game last season and was a three-time first-team Super-Stater. “It was just a matter of when and who the team was going to be.”
For her career, McCabe finished with 2,313 points and 389 triples. She was named the Journal Star’s Super-State honorary captain and the Nebraska Gatorade player of the year.
For the cherry on top, she won a national three-point shooting contest in April.
Prince is following a similar trajectory on the basketball court.
One of the nation’s top recruits in the 2024 class, Prince’s sophomore campaign included reaching 1,000 career points and leading Elkhorn North to back-to-back state championships in Class B.
A point guard who can do it all, Prince averaged 24.1 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.4 steals and 4.3 assists while garnering first-team Super-State honors for the second time.
Winning a state championship as a freshman was memorable, Prince said, especially for a school in the first year of existence. But title No. 2 has its own place for Prince.
“I just think it’s super-hard to win back to back because obviously everyone knew that we won last year and they all wanted to beat us really bad, so we could not have an off night, otherwise we’d get beat,” Prince said. ”We had to bring every game, every practice and I feel like we did a great job staying focused the whole year.”
The 5-11 Prince is the No. 11 recruit in ESPN’s HoopGurlz rankings and has almost 25 Division I offers, including Maryland, Louisville, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Creighton and Indiana. Mississippi State, which reached the Final Four in 2017 and ’18, is the latest to offer Prince.
McCabe could have coasted as a high school senior, but she made a promise to herself before her final year at Fremont. After competing in two sports (basketball and track), she was going to take part in three sports as a senior.
A standout middle-distance runner, It made sense to take on cross country. McCabe has unleashed pressure baskets in state basketball settings, but cross country was different.
“It was honestly the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I’ll tell anyone that,” said McCabe, who placed 53rd at state. “Just what your body undergoes is unbelievable and especially somebody like that who wasn’t used to that and not training for that for four years.”
McCabe was much more comfortable on the track, especially in the 800-meter run, where she placed sixth at state, while running on two gold-medal relay teams.
Fremont finished runner-up in the team title race. Last year, the Tigers won it all.
“Fremont track is a big deal,” said McCabe, who was part of the Fremont 3,200 relay team to run a 9:17.34 at state (second on the all-time charts). “It’s what our town does, so pretty much all my friends do track, so it’s kind of my time I get to spend with them, and they’re all really competitive about it. The atmosphere at Fremont, especially for track, is so fun.”
Is McCabe just as competitive on the track as she is on the hardwood?
“Absolutely,” she said quickly. “I never like to lose, especially when I’m competing for our coaches, who are really, really fantastic, and the other girls who are putting in just as much work for me as I am for them. I don’t want to let anyone down.”
Prince’s gold rush this past school year didn’t end at PBA.
One of the top middle-distance runners in the state, Prince rallied over the final 60 meters to win a Class B state championship in the 800 (2:17.43) at Omaha Burke Stadium.
“I don’t like to lose at all, and I hate losing more than I love to win, I would say,” said Prince, who also was part of two winning relay teams. “I was trying to win that 800 and I felt like I had enough left in me to catch her so I kind of gave it all I had.
“I guess it does kind of show people that I’m more than just a basketball player and that I’m a multisport athlete, and I think that’s really important, too.”
Hours after winning an 800 gold medal, Prince and her Elkhorn North teammates celebrated the school’s first girls track and field championship.
Prince, who placed 30th in Class B at state cross country, is a talented soccer and softball player, too. In fact, last fall Prince was on the Elkhorn Roots soccer team that finished second at the state soccer cup tournament.
Prince has played roles on three state championship teams, and now she gets two more years to create more memories with her teammates and mother, Ann, who is the girls basketball coach.
“It’s really crazy and it’s super awesome to be able to accomplish that already, but there’s more to be accomplished, also,” Prince said, “It’s really crazy to have done that in two years and I feel super lucky and super blessed to be surrounded by great teammates and coaches.”