Eric Allaire, a 1985 graduate and prolific scorer on the basketball court, is the final member of the Mason High School Athletic Hall of Fame’s 2016 class.
Allaire, who passed away in January at age 49, will be inducted posthumously during halftime of Mason’s Sept. 16 varsity football game along with the 2003, 2005 and 2006 wrestling teams and fellow individual inductees Lucy DeMartin-Prior, Craig Eifert and Jerry Willis.
Allaire, who is already a member of the athletic hall of fame at his alma mater, Hillsdale College, developed a love for basketball early. Entering high school in 1981, Allaire was a skilled guard who could handle the ball and had great shooting form and range, but he was the smallest member of the team at 5 feet 8 inches and a mere 115 pounds.
Like most players, Allaire played freshman and junior varsity basketball. But unlike most players, Allaire sprouted 5 inches the summer after leading his junior varsity team in scoring and assists; he returned to school that fall as a 6-foot, 3-inch junior.
“It’s not often that you have a kid that big who can handle the ball,” said Jim Glazier, who was then Mason’s varsity coach. “He could play any of the five positions we would need him to play.” In Allaire’s junior season, Mason raced out to a 9-1 record, thanks to a wealth of seniors who, along with Allaire, were all capable of scoring more than 20 points on any given night.
The Bulldogs averaged 76 points per game entering a huge contest against league rival and state-ranked Okemos. “Eric was a scoring machine,” said Stan Stolz, Okemos varsity coach at the time and a former Bulldog athlete who was a member of the Mason High School Athletic Hall of Fame’s 2015 class. “I knew we couldn’t stop him and hoped to hold down others players for us to succeed.”
Mason lost that game to Okemos, and the team sputtered as league competition was at its peak that year. “I honestly think it’s the strongest league I’ve seen in 10 years,” Stolz told the Lansing State Journal at the time. Mason finished the year 12-8, but excited the community as the team hadn’t had a winning season since 1973. Allaire averaged 12 points per game and received All-Capital Circuit Honorable Mention.
Allaire grew even more by the time he was a senior, and his scoring role for the Bulldogs grew as well.
“Whatever role I put him in, he would do it,” said Glazier. “I can’t imagine how many points he would have scored for us had there been a three-point line back then.” Nonetheless, Allaire still put up spectacular numbers as a senior, finishing with the third-highest scoring average in the state.
His averages of 27 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals per game put him on the Lansing State Journal All-Area Dream Team, and the newspaper described him as “one of the area’s most accurate shooters” at 59 percent from the field and 81 percent from the free throw line.
Allaire led Mason to a Class B district final appearance where the Bulldogs were edged by Eaton Rapids 59–57. Allaire fought to the end, scoring 29 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
Voted Most Valuable Player by his teammates, Allaire also earned All-Capital Circuit First Team, All-Ingham County First Team and All-State Second Team honors. He accepted a scholarship from Hillsdale College, an NCAA Division II program competing in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC).
Hillsdale College star
Allaire made an immediate impact at Hillsdale. He finished the season averaging 14.5 points and 3.7 rebounds per game and was voted the Hillsdale Freshman of the Year.
Allaire improved his performance each season. As a sophomore – and with the introduction of the three-point line – Allaire upped his scoring average to 19.5 points per game, which earned him All-GLIAC Second Team honors.
As a junior, he averaged 20.6 points and six rebounds per game on a high-scoring team that averaged more than 90 points per game. With his combination of size and leaping and shooting ability, Allaire became a versatile scorer and finished his junior season fifth on Hillsdale’s list of all-time scoring leaders.
As the lone senior and team co-captain, Allaire was even more successful in his final season, averaging 24.1 points per game. He eclipsed the all-time scoring mark in only the 14th game of the season, and with so many games remaining, he shattered the scoring mark and became Hillsdale’s only 2,000-point scorer, eventually finishing with 2,174 career points.
In his final two seasons, he was a two-time All-GLIAC First Team selection, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) District 23 Player of the Year and NAIA Honorable Mention All-American.
Allaire’s playing days at Mason ended in 1985, but in 2001 when he had a young son participating in Mason’s youth basketball program, Allaire began a 14-year stretch on the coaching staff. With his understanding of the ins and outs of the game, Allaire started as an assistant with the eighth-grade team, working with players individually to help them hone their skills.
Eventually, he moved up to assist the varsity coach, Lee Chaney, and in Allaire’s second season in that position, Mason won the 2007 CAAC Red Division championship.
“As a coach, Eric loved the Mason basketball program and gave so much to it for over a decade,” said Chaney. “Winning the conference championship in 2007 I know was one of the greatest sports accomplishments in Eric’s career.”
Allaire’s dedication and commitment to Mason’s basketball program ended prematurely when he passed away in January. Beyond the number of friends and family in attendance at his funeral, the outpouring of sympathy from former teammates, coaches and players demonstrated the immensely positive impact Allaire had on so many.
“I owe him so much for all the work he put in and am forever grateful to have been able to work with him,” Chaney said.
Allaire is survived by his son, Emmons; his parents, Paul and Kathy; and his sister, Carrie.