Sports

Bishop Kearney Memories Engrained in Hoops Star

Former Bishop Kearney hoops standout Janelle McManus, center, was inducted into the GCHSAA Hall of Fame in 2014. She’s pictured with League President Denise Hillig, left, and her former high school coach, Cathy Crockett, right. (Photo: Jim Mancari)

Back in May, we received the sad news that the doors of Bishop Kearney H.S., Bensonhurst, would close permanently.

Though the school will no longer operate, the memories of countless students and student-athletes will remain near and dear to graduates’ hearts.

One of those graduates is Janelle McManus, who remains the all-time leading scorer in GCHSAA varsity basketball history with 2,274 career points.

McManus, who grew up in Belle Harbor, is the youngest of six children of Martin and Francine McManus: Martin, Erik, James, Kristine, Keith and Janelle. With the storied schoolyard right outside her parish, McManus, of course, grew up playing Catholic Youth Organization basketball at St. Francis de Sales, Belle Harbor.

When it came time for high school, McManus narrowed down her decision to Bishop Kearney or Chris the King H.S., Middle Village. She was looking for an opportunity to play on the varsity level right away and already had a relationship with then-Kearney head coach Cathy Crockett, and so playing for the Tigers was her top choice.

In four years at Kearney, McManus was the captain on three varsity teams that won state championship titles, including one that captured the first state federation title in school history. In addition to her scoring prowess, she made lasting friendships that she maintains to this day.

“My whole life ever since I was little, I always envisioned being a great basketball player,” she said. “Obviously with practice and being surrounded by the right teammates, I was able to perform.”

Playing competitive basketball in high school prepared McManus well for the college game. After graduating from Kearney in 2000, she played two seasons at Boston College, before finishing up her collegiate career at Fairfield University in Connecticut.

These days, the 2014 GCHSAA Hall of Fame inductee — who also had her No. 12 jersey retired by Kearney — is in her 11th year working in the professional products division at L’Oreal in New York City.

Gone But Not Forgotten

McManus said she began to hear rumblings about three or four years ago that Kearney was in jeopardy of closing. However, she thought everything would be fine because the school was able to remain open temporarily.

When she heard the news in May, she was upset to hear that the place that molded her legendary basketball career would be no more.

“There’s a little bit of shock to find out your high school won’t be there anymore, but all the good memories you’ll still have,” McManus said. “Just 10 to 15 years down the line to not be able to go back, it’s a little shocking.”

While it’s sad to see a Brooklyn institution close, it’s also a celebration of what Kearney meant to so many people, McManus included.

“There are a lot of wonderful people who have come out of that school,” she said. “That’s what’s great about Kearney. Once a Tiger, always a Tiger. That’s really true. Anyone you have met that has gone to that school, there’s always that bond.”

During her high school years, McManus’ father recorded many of her games, and so she’s luckily able to rewatch those memories from her days in Tigers’ green and white. Through the videos, she has been able to relive the highlights of her unmatched high school career.

“It’s just something I’ll always remember,” McManus said.

Basketball remains a passion for McManus. Every summer for the past 12 years, she has run a hoops camp for 80 children ages 5 to 11 at St. Francis de Sales alongside Grace Leahy, who played basketball at Christ the King and then St. John’s University, Jamaica.

Her playing days might be over, but McManus is now teaching the fundamentals of the game to the next generation of potential Catholic League basketball stars. That’s what the Kearney spirit is all about.


Contact Jim Mancari via email at jmmanc@gmail.com.

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