MADISON HEIGHTS — This wasn’t how Melanie Moore imagined her basketball career at Bishop Foley would end.
Nor did anyone else who witnessed her development over four years on the varsity into a starring role to help the Ventures build a 60-20 record, win a Catholic League championship and district and regional titles in state tournament playoffs.
And, yet the unimaginable did happen. In her last high school game, for the first and only time, Melanie, who averaged 17.6 per game, scored no points. She missed four shots from the floor and four free throw attempts.
It happened on the biggest stage that Bishop Foley boys or girls basketball ever played, the cavernous Breslin Center at Michigan State, before more than a thousand fans in attendance and who knows how many watching on television.
It was a Division 3 semi-final in the afternoon of St. Patrick’s Day between the Ventures (20-3) and Kent City (25-0).
It was no contest. Bishop Foley lost 47-30. Melanie spent the closing minutes on the bench, her head buried in her hands.
“I wish I could tell you what happened,” she says during our conversation some two months later. “I think about it quite often. It didn’t hit me at first. But the next week with no more basketball to do, it kind of did.”
Perhaps it was stage fright. “The nerves,” Melanie says. “My junior year we made it to the Elite 8. (Lost 53-46 to Hemlock). We fell apart. This year we knew those nerves would be there and what it would take to help fuel us this year.”
Bishop Foley beat Reese, 55-48, led by Melanie’s 26 points and eight rebounds to advance to the match with Kent City, where the nerves re-appeared affecting the entire team, missing 36 of 46 field goal attempts and 14 of 16 three-point shots.
“What keeps me going is my family,” Melanie says. “My dad always told me one bad game doesn’t make you a bad player. It’s hard to think about that when you’re going thru it. It helped. I have a great relationship with my whole family. They come and support me no matter what.”
By “whole family,” Melanie includes at least six decades of 18 aunts and uncles, cousins, mother, brother and sister who have attended Bishop Foley, who in turn trace their lineage to Sandra Wardowski, who was head of the cafeteria lunch program for many years and was affectionally known as “Grandma Sandy.”
In her own immediate family, her mother Julie is a 1988 alumna of Foley. Her brother Zachary (2019) is at Central Michigan University studying to be a high school math teacher, and sister Kayla (2020) is a rising sophomore at Saginaw Valley University with a physical therapist career in her future.
Melanie, 18, is inspired by her aunt Debbie (Foley 1979) who died of ovarian cancer six years ago. “Just watching her go through what she suffered. She always had a positive outlook on life and was always pushing me to be better. She was always trying to do something new. That’s what I think about when I can’t do something, if she could so it, I can do it.”
Melanie’s graduation puts an exclamation mark on a remarkable prep career for this outstanding student-athlete.
For the “student” part of the equation, Melanie’s 4.0 GPA more than qualified her to belong to the National Honor Society. She was a member of the Key Club, a service-oriented group in partnership with local Kiwanis Club to work on community service projects.
She was a Foley Student Ambassador working with the Admissions Office to promote the school to prospective students. She joined the Catholic Athletes for Christ (“Cathletes”) formed in response to St. John Paul II’s call to evangelize the world of sports.
As an athlete, Melanie played shortstop for three years on the softball team and “for something different” her senior year on the track team where she finished runner-up in shot put in the Catholic League finals.
Basketball was her true love starting with CYO at St. Clair Shores St. Joan of Arc. She was All Catholic and All State her senior year. Her career total of 1,167 points is third best among girls basketballers at Foley.
“I tried to be a leader on and off the court,” she says.
This fall Melanie will take her talents to nearby Rochester University. She’s interested in pediatric nursing.
“I’ve accepted what happened,” she says. “Everyone has a bad day, but it’s how you overcome those days. I realize one bad game doesn’t define me. I’ll have more opportunities in college.”
Contact Don Horkey at [email protected].