KINGSTON, R.I. – University of New Hampshire men’s basketball head coach Bill Herrion will be inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame as a special honoree along with the Clark University High School Basketball Tournament at 7 p.m. on Oct. 9 at Mohegan Sun, the Hall of Fame recently announced.
Since 1939, Clark University has hosted one of the finest high school basketball tournaments in America, the Clark University High School Basketball Tournament. The tournament has provided thousands of young players from the small and medium towns of Central Massachusetts with the opportunity to participate in a well-organized competition with a focus on sportsmanship. Each year since its inception, the tournament has also presented a college scholarship to one or more participating seniors.
Along with the Clark Tournament itself and two major contributors to the success of the tournament, Herrion will go in as one of just three players, who will represent 70 years of basketball greatness at “The Clark.”
“It’s an honor to be a part of the New England Basketball Hall of Fame,” Herrion said. “Growing up in Central Massachusetts, the Clark Tournament was a big part of every high school player’s career. New England basketball has such a great tradition and history, and to be a part of that is very special.”
Herrion, who led Oxford High School to the finals of the tournament in 1976 and the semifinals in 1975, is sixth on the tournament’s all-time scoring list with 190 points. Herrion also owns the top two single-game scoring performances of the 1976 tournament with 47 and 33 points, respectively, as well as the fourth and fifth single-game performances in 1975 with 34 and 33 points, respectively.
Herrion’s best game came on Feb. 19, 1976 in a 96-79 win against Nashoba that lifted Oxford into the championship. Herrion knocked down 14 baskets and was 19 of 21 from the free throw line en route to scoring 47 points. The 19 free throws still stand as a single-game tournament record, while the 47 points are the third most in a single game and the 14 field goals are sixth most.
Kevin Wells, Herrion’s co-captain during the 1975 season, as well as one of his best friends for over 40 years, is excited for Herrion. “I couldn’t be happier to see him get the honor, as a player,” said Wells, Oxford’s current principal and a Clark Tournament committee member. “Certainly his record (as a coach) and his basketball knowledge speak for itself, but it’s nice to see him recognized as a player.”
Wells also said Herrion, the all-time leading scorer in Oxford boys’ basketball history with 1,521 points, did all of his damage without the benefit of the 3-point line. According to Wells, “Billy the Kid,” as he was referred to by the local media, was revered for his shooting ability and possessed a range that would cause defenders to guard him as soon as he crossed half court. “Billy could easily fill it up from a distance of what is today’s college 3-point line,” Wells said.
Paul Baker of Northbridge High School and Cliff Smith of Leicester High School are the other two players joining Herrion in the Hall. The late Russ Granger, former athletic director at Clark University and a guiding light in the early administration and success of the Tournament, along with John Doldoorian Sr., former athletic director and boy’s basketball coach at Northbridge High School, will also be inducted.