Coaches Lesure & Smith Headline New England HOF Inductees
The New England Basketball Hall of Fame will hold its annual induction ceremony on October 9th at Mohegan Sun Resort and Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.
The ceremony has attracted over 1,000 attendees in each of the last four years and is again expected to be one of the largest sports dinners in the country as 100 playing and coaching greats from the past are set to be inducted this year.
Two of the most recognizable coaching inductees aren’t from so far in the past, in fact they’re still sitting atop their respective fields. Not only are Bridgton Academy’s Whit Lesure and Windsor High School’s Ken Smith two of the most respected coaches in the prep and public school worlds respectively, but they also both led their teams to championships last year as Bridgton claimed their fourth NEPSAC Class A title in the last five years and Windsor the CIAC Division I state championship.
Lesure has been the head coach at Bridgton Academy since 1997. He was previously at the helm of the New Hampton program from 1982 to 1991 and an assistant at the University of New Hampshire from 1991 to 1996. In his 20 years as a prep school head coach, Lesure has compiled a record of 528-146 while winning six class A titles along the way, including three in a row (’05, ’06, ’07) and four of the last five (’05, ’06, ’07, and ’09), which is a feat last achieved by Worcester Academy’s Tom Blackburn in 1982. Lesure’s 85-86 New Hampton team also had the distinction of going undefeated against New England competition.
Lesure is widely credited for building two prep programs as he put New Hampton on the class A map and took Bridgton to levels never seen before. Along the way, he has produced over 100 division I players (including Syracuse’s all-time leading scorer Lawrence Moten) and countless others who have gone on to play at the division II and III levels. A number of Lesure’s former players have also gone on to pursue careers in coaching including Texas Tech head coach Pat Knight, Georgetown assistant Kenya Hunter, Missouri State head coach Counzo Martin, and many others. Fairfield University head coach Ed Cooley played for Lesure at New Hampton and will also be inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame on the 9th as a prep school player.
Along the way Lesure has been one of Class A Basketball’s biggest advocates and a coach who values the competitive rivalries with many of his Class A brethren. “It’s a lot of fun matching up againt these guys,” Lesure says of counterparts like Jere Quinn, Mike Byrnes, Jason Smith, Soup Campbell, Kelvin Jefferson, and others. “I have learned from a lot of folks and continue to try and take something from everyone we come across. So this Hall of Fame deal says something about me, but more it’s about the opportunity to take part in this league.”
Beyond the numbers and accolades, Lesure is probably best known for two things. First and foremost, he is a man who loves a challenge or a reason to compete and his teams take on that personality. Secondly, his kids learn how to play the game the right way plain and simple.
Smith has been at the helm of Windsor High School’s basketball program for the last 21 years. During that time he was won a total of 375 games, for an average of 18 wins per season, which is an astounding winning percentage considering CIAC schools are not permitted to play more than 20 regular season games. He has led Windsor to the state finals on four different occasions, and come away with titles in three of those years including back to back championships in ’98 and ’99, as well as last season (’09). Perhaps most impressively, Windsor has taken at least a share of the Central Connecticut Conference Championship sixteen times in the last twenty-one years.
Along the way, Smith has produced a number of players who have gone on to have successful college careers including Terrance Christie (Clemson), Russell Scott (Wagner), John Zito (UMBC), Devon Clarke (Iona), Jason Davis (Sacramento State), Steven Samuels (St. Peter’s), Adrian Satchell (UMBC), Kelvin Anderson (Hawaii), Oppong Agyemang (Adelphi), Billy Jones (Trinity), Steve Casparino (Eastern Connecticut), Ryan Litke (Sacred Heart), Ryan Cabreia (Fairfield), Drew Zito (Southern Connecticut), Itor Alberdi (Western Connecticut), Andoni Alberdi (New Haven), Alberto Alberdi (New Haven), Milo Peck (Wesleyan), Mike Dukes (Central Connecticut), Chris Baker (Penn State Football, 2009 NFL Draft), Terrence Knighton (Temple Football – 2009 NFL Draft), and his son Keyon Smith (Hartford).
Smith has also been tremendously active coaching the game at a variety of different levels over the years. Whether it is local clinics, traveling AAU teams, or the glory days of the Five Star Basketball Camp, Smith is always an enthusiastic teacher of the game.
His Windsor teams, appropriately named the Warriors, are known for their relentless attacking nature, full court pressure defense, and unwavering intensity. That continuity has developed a consistency of excellence over the years at Windsor High School and made Smith one of the most well known, and respected, high school coaches in the northeast.
Other 2009 New England Basketball Hall of Fame Inductees
High school boys' players
Jim Benedict, Hartford Public, Ct.
Lloyd Hinchey, Norwich Free Academy, Ct.
Steve Balkun, Northwest Catholic, Ct.
Donald Lewis, Cromwell, Ct.
Harold Pressley, Saint Bernard’s, Ct.
Chris Smith, Kolbe, Ct.
Jimmy Piersall, Waterbury, Ct.
Al Attar, Durfee
Andy Farrissey, Durfee
Mike Bradley, Worcester Burncoat
Dick Armstrong, Leominster
Robert Kovalski, Smith Academy
Jim Babyak, Easthampton
Joe Koz, Saint Mary’s
Matt Palazzi, Saint John’s of Shrewsbury
Lew Perkins, Chelsea
Dan Prince, Worcester Commerce
Steve Pound, Stearns, Maine
Nick Scaccia, Sanford, Maine
Jack Scott, Ellsworth, Maine
Andy Bedard, Mountain Valley, Maine
Matt Alosa, Pembroke, N.H.
Joe Drinon, Concord, N.H.
Rich Shrigley, Nashua, N.H.
Jack Allen, De La Salle Academy, R.I.
Joe Hughes, Central Falls, R.I.
Don Kaull, Rogers, R.I.
Brian McGovern, Coventry, R.I.
Andrew McGowan, LaSalle Academy, R.I.
Don Suggs, Tolman, R.I.
Gerry Suggs, Tolman, R.I.
Mike Evelti, Rice Memorial, Vt.
Todd Roberts, Fairhaven, Vt.
High school girls' players
Bethany Collins-Irwin, Branford, Ct.
Kelly Camp, West Haven, Ct.
Valerie DePaolo, Southington, Ct.
Kathy Curley Cochiss, Milford, Ct.
Anne Lindsay, Avon, Ct.
Jessica Mudry, Naugatuck, Ct.
Anna Kinne, Monument Regional
Jean Owens Peterson, Girls’ Latin
Kelly Barker, Billerica
Ann McInerney, Worcester Burncoat
Mary Ann Palazzi, Saint Peter Marian
Kim Cummings Singh, Brockton
Cyndi Meserve Bona, Livermore Falls, Maine
Liz Coffin, Ashland, Maine
Bri Fecteau, Westbrook, Maine
Linda Johnson Freeman, Scarborough, Maine
Julie Veilleux, Cony, Maine
Brenda Ginaitt, Warwick Vets, R.I.
Betsy Lang Zancan, Smithfield, R.I.
Kristen Mulholland, Cranston East. R.I.
Deb Pereira, Cumberland, R.I.
Allegra Schell, Central, R.I.
Pat White Gianunzio, Inter-Lakes, N.H.
Celeste Lavoie Blankenship, Nashua, N.H.
Lisa Russell, Manchester Central, N.H.
Libby Smith, Essex, Vt.
Rebecca Bright Pugh, South Burlington, Vt.
High school boys' coaches
Ralph King, McMahon, Ct.
Dave Shea, Bacon Academy, Ct.
Ken Smith, Windsor, Ct.
Pat Riera, Plainville, Ct.
Rollie Massimino, Lexington
Vic Ortiz, Brockton
Walter Perry, Somerville
Jack Lehane, Brockton
Jeff Hart, Camden, Maine
Charlie Katsiaficas Sr., Ellsworth, Maine
John Shaw, Rumford, Maine
Thomas Maines, Morse, Maine
Danny Parr, Saint Thomas Aquinas, N.H.
Al Simoes, Merrimack, N.H.
Jimmy Ahern, Mount Pleasant, R.I.
Jim Donaldson, Saint Raphael Academy, R.I.
Tom Sorrentine, Saint Raphael Academy, R.I.
Dan Sylvester, West Warwick High School, R.I.
Robert ‘Stretch‘ Gillam, Green Mountain Union, Vt.
Dan Gandin, U32 High School, Vt.
High school girls' coaches
Pam Childs, Putnam, Ct.
Kathy Rusch, South Windsor, Ct.
Chris Webster, North Branford, Ct.
Gertrude Fisher, O’Bryant (Boston Tech)
Kay Nehubian, Barnstable
Rick Clark, York, Maine
Roland Cote, Sanford, Maine
Joe Adamovicz, Manchester Central, N.H.
Rose Galligan, Pembroke Academy, N.H.
Sean Reddy, LaSalle Academy, R.I.
Jimmy Robinson, Central, R.I.
Jayne Barber, Bellows Falls Union, Vt.
Sue Pollender, Black River High School, Vt.
Prep school boys' players
Durelle Brown, Kingswood-Oxford, Ct.
Ed Cooley, New Hampton Prep, N.H.
Jack Phelan, Saint Thomas More, Ct.
Dick Stewart, Worcester Academy
Archie Tracey, Maine Central Institute
Paul Dufour, Phillips Exeter Academy, N.H.
Billy Lahart, Suffield Academy, Ct.
Prep school girls' players
Amy Belliveau, Thornton Academy, Maine
Brenna Chiaputti, Kingswood-Oxford, Ct.
Charde Floyd, Worcester Academy
Prep school boys' coaches
Rick Francis, Williston-Northampton
Rick Mahoney, Phillips-Exeter Academy, N.H.
Whit Lesure, New Hampton Prep, N.H.
Prep schools girls coach
Will Becker, Tabor Academy
Additional inductees in the categories of college players & coaches, media, scholar-athletes, referees, team honorees and the “Perry Category” are set to be announced later in the day today.