'Really special' day for Girls Basketball Hall of Fame's latest inductees


PITTSFIELD -- Nicole Patella is used to seeing her father's coaching accomplishments honored by halls of fame.

Saturday's Berkshire County Girls Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony, though, was a little different for the Lenox girls basketball coach. Her father, longtime Lenox girls coach Fred Lafave, was one of 14 new members honored at Taconic High School as the second Hall class was introduced.

"We celebrated his Hall of Fame induction [for the state coaches' hall] a couple of years ago, but this is very special to him," Patella said of her father. "He's recognized by his Berkshire counterparts."

It will be a long time before any county hall of fame can match the success of the coaching duo that was honored Saturday. Lafave went into the Hall alongside longtime Lee girls basketball coach Tom Cinella, as well as contributor Mike Kinne and 11 former county players.

Two of the players, Katlyn Cunningham and Courtney Shepard, were both foes and teammates in their basketball careers. Cunningham scored 1,255 career points for Drury and Shepard notched 1,498 for Pittsfield before the pair became teammates at Union (N.Y.) College.

Cunningham is used to the two being paired this week.

"All the questions I've been asked are about you!" she joked as she turned to Shepard on Saturday.

"It's really special to go in with Courtney," she continued. "Playing against her in high school, and then with her in college ... building a friendship and being inducted together is special."

Both Cinella and Lafave went in with former players of theirs -- Cinella with 1994 Lee grad A.J. Skowron, and Lafave with 2000 grad Abigail Lemanski.

When it was Lafave's turn to be honored in front of the Taconic crowd on Saturday, it was Lemanski presenting him with his Hall plaque.

"It means a lot, having my coach be part of it, as well as Katlyn, [Mount Everett's] Jen Bennett and Courtney," Lemanski said. "I played with [them] for a number of years. It's really nice to get back together and see some of the older players that certainly shaped the game."

The ceremony was followed by the annual Hall of Fame game, which pitted Lee -- the program Cinella helped turn into a state power -- against Taconic.

The Hall's legacy wasn't just on the Lee side, of course -- the late Bob O'Neil, a driving force behind the formation of the Hall and a 2012 inductee, was represented by his daughter, Taconic guard Angela O'Neil.

"I think Berkshire County [girls] basketball is pretty special, and it's because of the contributions of Bob O'Neil," Patella said. "The board has done a tremendous job.

"This class is a pretty special class. You've got two great coaches. You've got great athletes, many of [whom] I've played against or coached against. I'm just happy I was here to witness a great induction."

To reach Matthew Sprague:
or (413) 496-6254.
On Twitter: @BE_MSprague.


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