Sunday January 20, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- The upper echelon of the girls' high school basketball heritage in Berkshire County were gathered at the Taconic High School gymnasium on Saturday evening, to raise money for a good cause and swap fibs about their athletic careers.

The inaugural class of the newly-created Berkshire County girls' high school basketball Hall of Fame was introduced in a special ceremony on Saturday. A total of 18 individuals were honored, including 15 players, two coaches and one contributor. They or their representatives were all given plaques and took their place at midcourt of the gym.

James Abel, athletic director of Pittsfield Public Schools, served as Master of Ceremonies.

The money from Saturday's event, which was folded into the annual Coaches vs. Cancer Basketball Showcase, will go toward research through the American Cancer Society. Just before the induction ceremony was to start, Abel estimated the event would raise between $9,000 and $10,000.

"It was a fun weekend," said Anna Kinne Patel, a former 1,000-point scorer at Monument Mountain and a member of the Holy Cross and New England Basketball Halls of Fame. "It was an honor to be inducted with Lisa Boenitz, who played at Holy Cross before I did, and Anne Whalen, who played at Monument."

"Well, I'll tell you what I said at [Friday] night's banquet," said Samantha Herrick of Lenox, the leading scorer, male or female, in Berkshire County basketball history with more than 2,000 points.


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"It was kind of odd to be at a basketball banquet at 40 years old, but it was fun. And, yes, it's an honor to be selected with these players."

"Oh, just write something," said Lenox star Lisa Boenitz-Gastaldi. "My father told me to thank my teammates. Just put that in."
But was it an honor to be selected?

"Yes, of course," she said. "But I just don't want to be called first and have to sit out there by myself."

Alas, Boenitz-Gastaldi was called first. She sat by herself for about five minutes.

"It's great," said contributor Wray Gunn Jr, who refereed in the county for 35 years. "It's a great honor and it's great to still be here talking to you."

Beside those three already mentioned, the other players included Mary Gaudreau of Drury, Paula Hayden of Hoosac Valley, Erin, Megan and Stephanie Ladley of Pittsfield High School, Mary Langendorf and Meghan Vaughan of Wahconah, Whalen of Monument Mountain, Kelly McManmon of Lee, along with Mickie Turner and Hollie Steinman of Taconic. Also inducted was 1940s amateur star Nina Kazura. Gunn was intriduced as the contributor.

Two coaches, Robert "Boog" Powell of Wahconah and Bob O'Neil of Pittsfield and Taconic were honored posthumously. O'Neil's daughter, Angela O'Neil, presently playing for Taconic, accepted his plaque and was given a standing ovation by the crowd.

To reach Derek Gentile:
dgentile@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6251.
On Twitter: @DerekGentile