Maddie Gillis is used to thinking out of the box. The Division girls basketball player, who just crossed the 1,000-point threshold, is also a member of a school robotics team that builds robots to accomplish various tasks, including races, mazes and other competition.
So, it’s no surprise that Gillis hopes to study engineering in college. It’s also no surprise that sometimes she engineers her own spin on the plays drawn up by coach Steve Kissane, in his 30th year with the program.
“Maddie’s like having another assistant,” Kissane said. “She comes up with great ideas. If we have a play, she tweaks it. Makes it better, usually. She lives and breathes basketball.”
Gillis, a senior, reached the 1,000-point mark on a jumper in the second quarter of Division's 48-34 win over Roosevelt on Jan. 9 . She scored 19 points in the game. After 12 points on Jan. 8, Gillis has 1,019 points and is just the second player in program history to reach 1,000.
“I’m definitely relieved,” Gillis, who said she has narrowed her recruitment to New Paltz, Widener and York (Pa.), said. “I was really excited about it once it happened and once I knew I had a shot at getting it. It’s just been a lot of excitement.”
With nine games remaining (not including a potential playoff berth), Gills could reach the program record of 1,147 set by Noreen Duffy in 1996. Ironically, Duffy was Gillis’ math teacher when she became the first player in program history to be called up to varsity as an eighth grader.
The following year, Maddie’s sister, Emily, became the second player to be called up as an eighth grader. Kissane said Emily is on pace to reach 1,000 points as well.
“I remember when her mom played here,” Kissane said. “Her mom was a really good ballplayer. Now I get a chance to coach her daughters, it’s really cool. These two work really hard. Most teams realize they have to key on these two girls.”
The Gillis’ are a basketball family. Their mother played collegiately at St. Thomas Aquinas, and their father played at Nassau CC. Their twin seventh-grade brothers also play in a local league.
Naturally, the Gillis household is filled with competitive rivalries.
“All of us are athletes,” Maddie said. “Every day at home, whether we’re playing outside or inside doing different things, it’s always a competition.”
Perhaps that prepared Maddie for a successful varsity career. The point guard started in her first game as an eighth grader and said she has never come off the bench. The versatile shooter can create her own shot and shoot proficiently from distance, while also having the high basketball IQ necessary to create for her teammates.
The standout athlete — who also plays soccer and lacrosse — has lofty goals for the remainder of the basketball season. She hopes to eclipse Duffy’s program mark, but that’s not all.
She hopes to clinch a playoff berth and compete against Nassau Class A’s top competition. If she has her way, she’ll engineer a deep playoff push.