Oliver Ames High School boys' basketball coach Don Byron was recently inducted into the Massachusetts Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

EASTON – The list is an impressive one.

“When you look at the list, it’s like, ‘Oh, boy,’ ” Don Byron said. “There’s some big names on that list: Red Auerbach, Jim Calhoun, and a lot of high school guys that were very successful for a number of years. Who doesn’t belong and why?”

Byron’s self-deprecation aside, his name is now on that distinguished list.

The Oliver Ames High School boys’ basketball coach was recently inducted into the Massachusetts Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

A 1970 Watertown High School graduate and standout on the school’s first team to boast a winning record in years, Byron went on to Westfield State where he played for the first team in the history of the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference to go to the ECAC Tournament, his teammates including Cardinal Spellman boys’ head coach and Massachusetts Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Mike Perry.

After working as a substitute teacher for a year, Byron taught in South Boston for less than one school year before he was hired in Mansfield where he spent the next 35 years teaching eighth-grade math.

Byron broke into coaching when his high school coach, John Myers, hired him as an assistant at Watertown, a position he held for two years. Byron’s first head coaching job came as the girls head coach at Mansfield, but after just one season (1976-1977) he “actually took a step back to become the boys’ jayvee coach with the thought that I wanted to be on the boys’ side.”

Five years as the boys’ junior varsity coach at Mansfield led to six years as the Hornets’ varsity coach. Since then, Byron has been the head coach at Walpole (eight years), Abington (13 years) and now Oliver Ames (since 2009).

Along the way, Byron has registered more than 400 wins, his teams traditionally qualifying for the tournament (a streak of 17 consecutive postseason appearances with Abington and OA was snapped when the Tigers went 8-12 last year), his most serious run as a head coach coming in 2008-2009 when he guided the Green Wave to 23 consecutive victories, the Division 3 South Sectional title and a trip to the TD Banknorth Garden (as it was called back then) where it suffered its lone loss of the season to his alma mater, Watertown.

Byron says there is more to what he has done than the numbers he’s put in the win column, however.

“To see (kids) become successful in whatever they choose to do is really gratifying,” said Byron. “They come back all the time and when you get an award like this the kids will take the opportunity to check back in. A number of them have.”

Last year, Byron concedes, was especially difficult, though, the rigors extending far beyond the Tigers' won-loss record as he staged a battle with the most difficult opponent he’s ever faced – cancer.

“It’s really hard to explain how much radiation and chemo knock you out,” said Byron, “but I only missed one day here last year. I got great support here, from my assistant, Oliver Vil, in particular.

“I had to coach from my seat. I couldn’t stand for more than a minute or two. I lost all my hair and I lost 60 pounds, but it was like my second question: 'Am I going to survive?’ was one and then 'Can I coach through this thing?’ (The doctors) all kind of gave me the answer. They said, ‘You can do it, but it’s not going to be easy.’ So that’s all I needed to hear and then I went with it. They pretty much said, you can take the season and break it into three phases. December, you’re going to tell yourself ‘this isn’t so bad’ and it wasn’t. January, you’ll start to see signs of what they’re talking about. Then February will be a grind. And it was.”

Now, at the age of 66, blessed with a positive medical outlook, Byron feels reinvigorated.

“I’m having a blast,” he said. “After what I went through last year, where my intensity level, my energy level and all that were definitely compromised, I’m really looking forward to this season and being able to go back at this full bore. Last year, I just wasn’t able to do it the way I was accustomed to doing it. I had this almost snatched away from me here.”

Married to his wife of 30 years, Christine, the couple are the parents of two: son Michael, a 1,000-point scorer at OA who played for his father at the AAU level but not in high school (“I missed him by a year, which from his end of things is probably a good thing”) and went on to play at Division 3 nationally-ranked Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and daughter Jennifer, a member of the Tigers’ 2010 state Division 2 championship girls basketball team who is a Boston College graduate. Michael is now employed as an engineer, while Jennifer works in the special education department in the Framingham school system.

As for their dad, while he’s retired from teaching he intends to stick with this coaching gig for a while.

“It was close to, ‘Am I going to have to walk away from this?’ ” said Byron. “Now, I’m having a ball all over again with it.”