Taconic's Walker Receives Scholarship from County's Officials

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- There were players who scored more points in Friday’s Berkshire County Basketball Officials All-Star Game than did Taconic senior Janee Walker.
 
But it is a fair guess none were more appreciative of the opportunity.
 
“It was amazing,” Walker said after scoring 15 points in her team’s 98-94 loss at the Boys & Girls Club. “You never think that the kids you grew up with you’ll get to play with all over again. And to get to play with the kids I learned basketball with was heart-warming -- to say that my last game in Pittsfield was with the people I grew up with.”
 
And the Berkshire County officials showed their appreciation for Walker by awarding her the Oswald Tower Scholarship to Walker for her contribution to the community on and off the basketball court.
 
“For the past years, I’ve been working really hard at Taconic not just in my school but outside my school,” the Curry College-bound student-athlete said. “I work with the community, a lot with the Boys Club. I work here and there with my dad on boys sports with my little brother. And I also work at Camp Russell.
 
“I used to do the Keystone program here and also the SADD program, which is Students Against Destructive Decisions at my school. I just know the community has given me so much, so why not give back.”
 
Walker was not the only player to walk out of the gym with some hardware on Friday night.
 
At half-time of the girls all-star game, Pittsfield High’s Peyton Steinman and Mount Greylock’s Jenna Benzinger were awarded the 2017 Berkshire County Sportsmanship Awards for the North and South Divisions, respectively.
 
On the boys side, the county’s officials recognized Drury’s Connor Meehan in the North and Mount Greylock’s Cameron Hadley in the South.
 
Meehan scored five points and passed out four assists to help Team Ed Ladley to a 114-109 victory over Team Walt Miller in the boys’ all-star game.
 
The winners got 23 points and nine rebounds from Taconic’s Deonte Sandifer and nine points and seven assists from his Taconic teammate, Izaiya Mestre. Wahconah senior Luke Steinman scored 13, including 11 in a high-scoring first-half that saw Team Ed Ladley take a 71-50 lead into the break.
 
Team Walt Miller fired out the gates after half-time with an 11-0 run to cut the margin down to 10 points and got within three when Monument Mountain’s David Riegel (13 points) hit a 3-pointer to make it 93-90 with about eight minutes left.
 
But Team Ed Ladley went on a 14-2 run capped by a Sandifer 3-pointer from about 30 feet to re-establish its double-digit lead.
 
St. Joseph freshman Kekoa McArdle led Team Walt Miller with 23 points and 17 rebounds. Monument’s Joe Aberdale scored 14 -- 11 in the second half.
 
Lee senior Karli Retzel and Drury sophomore Brooke DiGennaro each scored 24 points to lead Team Wray Gunn, Jr., to a four-point win in the girls game.
 
Benzinger scored 12 with 16 rebounds, and Lenox senior Jackie Hathaway dished out seven assists for her high school coach, Mike Nykorchuck, who was recognized with the county sportsmanship award by the Berkshire County Officials on Friday night.
 
Wahconah senior Ashley Zink scored a game-high 29 in a losing cause for Team Wray Gunn, Sr., which got 12 apiece from PHS teammates Steinman and Bella Aitken. Monument Mountain senior Addie McLaughlin grabbed 10 rebounds to go along with seven points.