Berkshire County Girls Basketball Hall of Fame Inducts 10

By Stephen Sports
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Kelly LaChance was a big name in girls basketball at Lenox Memorial Middle High School.
She might have been an even bigger name somewhere else.
“It really wasn’t fair because Kelly was playing behind Lisa Boenitz, who was setting records and winning championships,” Bob Doolittle said Sunday afternoon. “Those girls went on to win every game for the next three years.”
Doolittle was at Berkshire Hills Country Club to introduce LaChance as a member of the Berkshire County Girls Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020.
She joined players Jennifer Maloney Roosa (Pittsfield), Nancy Gleason (St. Joseph), Sharon Conway Mathieu (Monument Mountain), Mary Ann Lombardi (Wahconah), Christine “C.C.” Coughlin (Pittsfield), Danielle Racette (Drury) and Florence T. (Solera) Allessio (Pittsfield) along with coach John Estes and contributor Rose Marie Ladley in the eighth class to enter the Hall since it was created in 2013.
The Hall historically has recognized its classes during the winter. With the 2020 ceremony canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sunday marked the first time the hall has celebrated a new class since March 2019.
LaChance was the only one of the group introduced by her junior varsity basketball coach.
Doolittle said he remembered LaChance for her competitive spirit, recalling how there were nights when she could have played in varsity games that were expected to be blowouts but instead asked to play with the jayvee to help that team compete.
LaChance remembered how her storied teammates inspired her.
“Playing girls basketball at Lenox Memorial High School in the 1980s was an unbelievable time,” she said. “I was surrounded by some of the most talented and hardest working players the game has ever known. … These girls showed me that hard work, commitment, sacrifice, perseverance and teamwork leads to championships, not to mention a 67-game winning streak.
“Leading us through all of this was our amazing coach, Lenny Miller, one of the best coaches Berkshire County has ever known. He gave us structure, knowledge and motivation that made us want to work harder and be better. And it worked.”
Miller was not in attendance on Sunday, but he sent along remarks that Doolittle shared with the crowd.
“I’d like to focus on your senior year,” Miller wrote. “After playing varsity basketball for three seasons at Lenox High behind five Western Mass All-Stars, you got your opportunity, and what a sensational senior year you had.
“You led a group of young, inexperienced teammates to 15 wins, a tie in the regular season Southern Division standings with only one loss and a finalist appearance in the Western Mass, Division 3 Championships, losing in overtime. You did this by frequently scoring 20 points, gathering 15 rebounds, blocking three or four shots and shooting over 80 percent from the foul line.”
LaChance may not have ended her high school career with a title, but she was a winner in Miller’s book.
“Even though we did not win the Western Mass championship, this was, for me, such a rewarding and enjoyable season, in large part because of you,” Miller wrote.
Sunday’s ceremony recognized stars from one end of the county to the other and across seven decades of Berkshire County sports.
The inductees ranged from Racette, Drury High School Class of 2013, to Allessio, Pittsfield High Class of 1935.
Lawrence Allessio accepted the award on behalf of his mother, who died two years ago at the age of 104.
“Her coach [at PHS] really wanted her to go on to college,” he said. “But in those days, there was no money. The coach thought she had the ability and desire to play college ball and be a coach at some point down the road.”
She stayed connected to the game throughout her life, Lawrence Allessio said, watching basketball games on television to the end. “Only the women’s games,” he said.
Racette did go on to play college ball at a high level at Springfield College.
“As I thought about what I was going to say today, there are so many things that I could highlight about her career,” Racette’s Drury coach, John Franzoni, said.
He singled out a game in the Western Mass quarter-finals against South Hadley, when the Tigers had the Blue Devils on the ropes, but Racette repeatedly came up with a steal, a blocked shot, a basket or an assist in the closing minutes to send Drury to Curry Hicks Cage and the sectional semi-finals.
“Every single aspect -- making a big shot, setting up her teammates, playing great defense and making the big play at the end of the game to help our team,” Franzoni said. “If you’re a leader, you’re a special player and a special person, you’re always there for your team and for your family. That’s where you shine the brightest.”
Franzoni serves on the Berkshire County Girls Basketball Hall of Fame Board of Directors along with Karen MacHaffie, Betty O’Neil, Joe Racicot, John Vosburgh and Ladley.
“I didn’t have a vote on this [induction],” Ladley joked on Sunday. “I showed up at a meeting and they said, ‘Guess who’s getting inducted?’ “
On Sunday, Vosburgh, who served as the master of ceremonies, started the ceremony with a moment of silence for another member of the board, Tom Kinne, who died this summer at 81.
Vosburgh also appealed to other supporters of girls basketball in the county to join the board in its mission to recognize the sport’s history.
“Unlike other halls of fame you might have heard of, we don’t ask anyone to do any fund-raising, we don’t hand out scholarships,” Vosburgh said. “Our job is to recognize the women who played basketball in Berkshire County through the years.”
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