CENTRAL PLACE – Katie Hart unknowingly pushes Julia Mann to achieve her highest goal in over seven years.
Mann became the all-time leading scorer in Central Square women’s and men’s basketball history, surpassing Hart’s previous record of 1378 points in a victory Feb. 27 at Oswego High School.
Mann, the senior and fifth-year college guard for the Redhawks, entered this week with more than 1,400 career points.
For Mann, the achievement marked the culmination of a mission she established after attending a girls’ basketball game in fifth grade and being mesmerized by the balls in the trophy case at Paul High School. V. Moore, focusing on the one that said: Katie Hart, 1378.
“I saw those balls in that trophy box and I was like, ‘I wanna do this someday, I wanna be in there,” “said Mann, who kept a list of scorers from Central Square to 1000 points as a growing motivation.
âSo, I mean, for years now I’ve been working towards this and finally being able to break the record was a great feeling,â she added. âI really admired (Hart), she was the top scorer and I just shot for her record. She played a big part in it and I guess she didn’t even really know it.
Mann first met Hart earlier this month at Paul V. Moore High School.
The top scorer duo in school history spoke about success, shared stories about the pressure as they approached the milestone and memorable moments from their respective decorated careers.
“It’s exciting that another woman was able to maintain this growing record, and it was really a point of pride for me that I not only held the girls’ record but also the school record,” said Hart. “The fact that she’s able to keep it out of reach, I held it for 13 years, so if she’s able to keep it that long or longer, that would be great.”
Mann hit her stage bucket in the fourth quarter when she stole an Oswego player’s ball around halfway and mistook it for a layup at the other end. Play was halted as teammates rushed onto the pitch to celebrate and exchange hugs.
Mann received a banner to commemorate the achievement and coaches at Oswego High School let her keep the ball. Central Square coach Kevin Brazell said Mann’s teammates were equally excited and anxious as they briefed him on the point total every time Mann scores this game.
âEveryone wanted her to break it, and everyone was so happy,â Brazell said. âWhen she finally stole the ball over a half court and ran and made a basket, it was so exciting for everyone … The girls were all on the bench saying, ‘She needs six, okay, now she needs five. ‘ They were all excited.
Fans were not present due to the county’s COVID-19 restrictions in place at the time, but Mann received a heroic welcome nonetheless. When the team returned to Paul V. Moore High School on the bus, cars were filling the parking lot, honking their horns and holding signs for Mann.
âWhen I scored my 1000th point, the stands were packed, so it was definitely a different environment,â said Mann. âBut we really managed to make the day special. My loved ones made it special, my team had pizza on the bus, and when we got back to school there were tons of people in the parking lot honking their horns and holding signs, it was really a great welcome and I was so grateful.
The school scoring record came with added angst for Mann, who has spent much of the past year wondering if there will be a high school basketball season. Once cleared, the prospects of a positive COVID-19 test or a spike in positivity rates derailing the season loomed at any time.
As well as anticipating her final hurray as one of the program’s seven longtime seniors, Mann was aware at the end of her junior campaign that she was only 82 points away from eclipsing the record that ‘she had been chasing for almost half of her life.
âI’m incredibly grateful to be able to play,â said Mann. âI really didn’t think we were going to have a season and then a week before we found out and it’s like, ‘Wow, is that really happening?’ We were able to get enough games and it happened and I’m really grateful because I didn’t think I was going to get the opportunity.
Last season, Mann joined Hart as the only two players in school history to score their respective 1,000th career point as juniors. The two are now at the top of the list of eight players in total, including five girls, who have surpassed the career total of 1,000 points.
âI’m just excited for her and happy that she got to play this year,â said Hart, a 2008 graduate who went on to play for Division I Canisius and Division II Le Moyne.
âI couldn’t imagine you are excited for your senior year and have worked to achieve those goals that you want to achieve and then something like a global pandemic hits to put an end to it. I’m just excited that she got to have a season and hit her goals.
Mann verbally committed to playing NCAA Division III basketball for the United States Coast Guard Academy. She was also accepted into three other service academies – Air Force, Army West Point and the Merchant Marine Academy. She also applied to the Navy but had not heard back earlier this week.
Mann was recruited by the Navy and Air Force, but traveled to the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, and was called the team’s top national rookie during a home visit of coach Alex Ivansheck.
âShe loved the coach, she loves the players, she wants to go out there and maybe fly helicopters,â Brazell said. “It was just the perfect place for herâ¦ I’ll miss her, but we know she’s going to do great things.”
The Redhawks entered the final week of their season with a 7-4 overall record. Mann is one of seven seniors who have contributed to multiple college seasons, joining Morgan Ransom, Brianna Basile, Jessalyn Tennant, Camryn Humphrey, Hannah Havens and Emily Schlueter.
Central Square finished 14-7 overall last year and lost in the Section 3, Class A quarterfinals and had won at least 12 games in each of the past four full seasons.
âIt was really great, one last race,â said Mann. âWe have seven seniors this year and we’ve been playing together since the fourth or fifth year, so it’s amazing to be able to have this one last season. We make the most of it, we just have a lot of fun and enjoy everything.