CORNER BROOK There are bound to be peaks and valleys throughout the season, so enjoy the successes when they happen.
That’s Corner Brook Regional High Titans senior boys basketball team coach Frank Foo thinks of the club’s No. 1 status in the first set of Newfoundland and Labrador Basketball Association Elite Eight rankings, released Thursday, for the upcoming Hall of Fame Cup tournament in February.
“It’s an honour to be No. 1, it’s nice,” said Foo. “In sports you celebrate the moment because you’re up and down, especially in high school sports.”
With high expectations for the team heading into the campaign, the Titans have lived up to the hype so far. The squad, with just two players missing from last year’s successful lineup, repeated as Wendy’s Classic champions in late-November with a 103-79 victory over the host Mount Pearl Senior High in the tournament final. Last weekend, the Titans went undefeated at the 2012 Subway Sackville Kingfisher Classic Basketball Tournament in Sackville, N.S., claiming the championship with a 94-71 win against the Prince Andrew Panthers.
Last year, the Titans were rated No. 1 in the first two sets of Elite Eight rankings, only to fall to No. 2 in the third and final set shortly before the Hall of Fame Cup tournament. They ended up being ousted in the semifinal after a 70-64 overtime loss to O’Donel High.
“You can’t be complacent,” cautioned Foo. “I would say, even though we’re ranked No. 1, one through three could be anybody, in my opinion anyway.
“But when you’re No. 1, everyone is gunning for you.”
Though they’re currently recognized as the best senior boys high school basketball team in the province, Foo believes there’s still room for improvement.
“It’s really up to the players how much higher they want to go,” said the coach. “They have the potential to ... grow to a higher level of basketball and understanding the game.”
With that in mind, Foo has arranged for gym time at the Corner Brook high school over the holidays to keep his team in the proper frame of mind. From Dec. 27-29, Foo is hoping the Titans will be able to match skills against the Grenfell Warriors men’s team, as well as another team of players who will be home from university over Christmas.
“I think it’ll be good for our boys to play some of the older kids, it’s only going to help them,” he said. “This is an opportunity for our boys and you’ve got to seize the opportunity.”
For Foo, the exhibition matches also provide a chance to give back to the community — at least, he’s hoping.
“We’re trying to think of something,” he said. “If we can get fans to come out to the games, maybe they can donate food items to people who need it or something like that.”
The Titans were the only west coast school to be included in the first set of Elite Eight rankings. No west coast schools made the cut in the female rankings.
Rankings are determined by an NLBA selection committee who gather scores of invitational tournaments, exhibition games and league play for the past two months, cutting off at Dec. 12. The Titans triumph in Sackville won’t be taken into account until the second set of rankings, which will be released in mid-January.
THE ELITE EIGHT
The following is the first set of Hall of Fame Cup rankings released by the NLBA on Thursday:
1. Corner Brook Regional High
2. Gonzaga Regional High
3. Booth Memorial High
4. Mount Pearl Senior High
5. Bishops College High
6. O’Donel High
7. Holy Heart of Mary Regional High
8. Holy Trinity High