County Girls Basketball Hall of Fame Inducts Nine
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- The roll call of the Berkshire County Girls Basketball Hall of Fame is replete with 1,000-point scorers and dominant rebounders.
But Lee High coaching legend Tom Cinella, himself a 2014 inductee into the Hall, reminded the audience at Saturday’s inductions that it takes more than flashy statistics to hang championship banners on high school gymnasium walls.
“What it takes sometimes to win basketball games -- things you’ll never see in the newspaper,” Cinella said. “Michelle [Naventi] took the ball out of bounds, successfully. You say, ‘Well, that’s not very important. You don’t read about it in the newspaper.’
“We looked at the statistics on turnovers at the key times in ballgames, the end of a close game when teams are pressing and you have to get the ball inbounds. She was very good at that.”
Naventi was one nine people inducted into the Hall’s seventh class on Saturday at Berkshire Hills Country Club.
Her fellow Lee Wildcat, Jessica Wilcox, joined her, along with Taconic’s Tammy Tobin and Kelly Daigneault, Monument Mountain’s Kristen Kinne and Pittsfield’s Judy Tierney and Tina Sottile. Joining the former players were former Drury High coach Irene Bianchi and, as a contributor to the game, Dalton Community Recreation Association Director of Social Programs Dan McMahon. All but Tobin and Bianchi were on hand to be recognized for the honor.
Thanks to players like Naventi doing the little things at Lee, the Wildcats built a tradition of success that would be the envy of most high school basketball programs.
“Her teams were in four Western Mass championships, four State Semi-Finals, four State Championships,” Cinella said. “That’s pretty good for four years. Michelle wasn’t the leading scorer, yet she averaged 10 points per game in those 20 games -- the five games [each year] on the way to that.
“Michelle, I’m very pleased you’re being honored, and it’s good to see that your name is on that banner that is going to be hanging up at Taconic High School.”
Cinella had the pleasure of introducing two of his former players at Saturday’s ceremony.
Several of the inductees were introduced by members of their family, including one, Kinne, who was introduced by her coach and father, David Kinne.
“Kristen played varsity basketball for Monument for four years, and it wasn’t always the highlight of Kristen’s day, having her father as her coach,” David Kinne quipped. “There was many a time that she had to take care of her dad, for sure.
“But we survived, and we became closer as a result.”
Kristen Kinne confirmed her dad’s assessment about the difficulty of playing for one’s parent. But she quickly pivoted to talk -- as several inductees did -- about the life lessons she learned in the high school gym.
“When I think about -- similar to what Kelly [Daigneault] just mentioned -- when I think about things in life, things life can throw you, some of the most important lessons were things that were strengthened through the sport of basketball,” Kristen Kinne said. “Whether that was perseverance, whether that was a quality of excellence, and that was one of the things my dad worked for.”
Another common theme on Saturday was the specialness and quality of Berkshire County girls basketball -- something that was on display in a major way just seven days earlier when the Hoosac Valley girls brought back a state championship from Worcester.
Tierney, who was inducted for her ability as a player but who continues to contribute to the game as a youth coach, was among those offering a perspective on that theme.
“I want to thank Berkshire County for making this league so competitive -- all the coaches and players throughout the years,” Tierney said. “You guys have made, I would say, the best program throughout the state. I really believe that. I go out to the South Shore to watch my nephews and nieces -- it’s great competition, nothing wrong with it, but Berkshire County really has something special here.”