'Go be great': How Point Boro basketball's Shane Ryan is honoring father's legacy on court

  • Mike Ryan, who passed away in November, was a star player in Jersey City. Now his son, Shane, has taken his game to the next level for Point Boro.
  • Before each game, Mike Ryan would tell his son to “go be great.” Now that saying adorns the shirts the Panthers wear during warmups.

POINT PLEASANT – The collection of neatly organized yellowing newspaper clips from four decades ago included an All-Hudson County basketball first team where Mike Ryan is honored alongside such players as St. Anthony’s David Rivers, the future Notre Dame All-American. And the glossy photos spread out nearby on the kitchen island captured some of the former Hudson Catholic star’s biggest moment, like a 1983 clash with Saint Peter’s Prep at the Meadowlands.

Shane Ryan has sifted through it all many times over the years. He can recite the specifics of his father’s playing career in Jersey City, where everyone called him “Mooney,” chapter and verse. And it’s that legacy that has pushed the Point Boro guard to new heights during his senior season, after Mike Ryan lost a year-long battle with brain cancer on Nov. 7, 2022.

“When I was growing up he would say, ‘keep shooting. They will fall and your work will show,’ ” Shane Ryan said. “This year they are falling.

“He knew how good I could be and I didn’t. I always lacked the confidence. But he just kept pushing me, which is what I needed.”

Pt. Pleasant Boro's Shane Ryan (#10) shoots over Manasquan's Mikey Flanagan (#13) during their game in Point Pleasant Boro Monday evening, January 23, 2023.

With Point Boro off to a 10-4 start, Ryan is averaging 15.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.8 assists, honoring the memory of a father who averaged 20.1 points and scored 523 points as a senior at Hudson Catholic, while stepping out of his shadow.

Susan Ryan believes everything happens for a reason, and that her husband’s passing has played a major role in all of this, noting that, “this is all because of Mike, that Shane is having the kind of year he’s having. I just know this was meant to be.”

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Now Shane Ryan wears a replica No. 10 Hudson Catholic jersey during pregame warmups, a fitting tribute to his father, who went to Seton Hall but had his basketball career ended by a back injury.

Point Boro senior guard Shane Ryan wears a replica Hudson Catholic No. 10 jersey, which his father, Mike wore as a player, during warmups prior to the Panthers' games this season.

“It gives me pride. It reminds me what I’m playing for and just makes me feel good and I know he would love to see it,” Shane Ryan said. “A lot of his friends still come to our games. They love to see me play.”

‘Go be great’

Shane Ryan came into his junior season nursing an ankle injury that never completely healed. But there was no way he was ever coming off the court.

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Because throughout the 2021-22 high school basketball season, Mike Ryan was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, staying with relatives in Jersey City much of the time.

Point Boro guard Shane Ryan holds a poster of his father, Mike, playing basketball at Hudson Catholic in 1983. Mike Ryan died of brain cancer on Nov. 7, 2022.

But he never missed a Point Boro game. Not a single one.

“The toll it took on him was crazy,” Shane Ryan said. “There were days he had treatment in the early afternoon, and he would be there for a 6 o’clock game and then drive back up because he had treatment the next morning. When I saw him there it made me play that much harder because I knew how much of a toll it was on him.”

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