Titans girls hoops team returning to Elite Eight

Chris Quigley
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Jade Regular of the Corner Brook Regional High 4A Titans girls basketball team goes for a layup during practice Monday at the school. — Star photo by Geraldine Brophy

For the first time since 2010, the Corner Brook Regional High Titans senior girls basketball team will compete at the Hall of Fame Cup.

In order to qualify for the tournament, a team must be included in the Elite Eight provincial rankings which are determined by a Newfoundland and Labrador Basketball Association (NLBA) selection committee based on submitted results.

The lady Titans were sixth on the first set of rankings released in December, but fell out of the top eight on the second list compiled in January. Last week, the third and final rankings were released, with the Titans coming in at No. 7.

“I was surprised we were put off,” said coach Keith Didham, noting the team didn’t lose a game in the period of time between the first and second set of rankings. “Now, we weren’t playing the stronger teams, but we were playing whatever tournaments we could get in.”

Winners of four tournaments so far this year — including events in Corner Brook, Deer Lake, Grand Falls-Windsor and Clarenville — the club also went 1-2 at the NLBA Invitational in St. John’s in December, where they played their lone game this season against a fellow top-eight team. They were defeated 61-37 by the third-ranked Gonzaga.

Didham figures Gonzaga, and the other two teams in the top three, are a notch above the other squads, but feels the Titans are just as good as the rest of the teams on the list.

Consisting of five Level 3 players, three Level 2s and five Level 1s, the Titans have a good mix of speed and size. According to Didham, a well-balanced scoring attack allows the team to stay in games, even if one of the typical top scorers is having an off night.

Emily Chaisson, a guard, is one of those players the team counts on for big performances. The 18-year-old daughter of Bill and Cathy has been involved in the sport since she joined the St. Gerard’s Elementary School team when she was in Grade 4.

“Our school had a basketball team and needed some players, so ...,” she explained.

Back then the attraction was all about being able to be around her friends and have a good time in the gymnasium.

“It was something we could all do together,” she said.

Now a vital cog with the Titans, Chaisson is convinced this year’s edition of the team is the strongest the school has ever boasted.

“I think we just play really well as a team,” said the speedy guard.

The Titans open the tournament today with a tough game against St. Kevin’s, which could either be a blessing or a curse. The result from that first game will determine which club the Titans play after that.

“We get our feet wet right off the bat,” said Didham. “They’re solid ... we’re going to have our hands full to beat those guys.

“We’ve got to play our best in order to do that.”

For Chaisson, that means moving the ball up the court efficiently and making smart passes. She admits there are nerves ahead of any tournament, especially one in which the competition will be so strong.

“But I think we’re ready to challenge ourselves,” she said. “It’s a pretty big deal for us — we haven’t made it there in a while.”

The rankings

The final set of Elite Eight female rankings for the Hall of Fame Cup, released by NLBA on Feb. 11:

1) Booth Memorial

2) St. Kevin’s

3) Gonzaga

4) O’Donel

5) Laval

6) Bishop’s

7) Corner Brook

8) Mobile

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Basketball Association

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Deer Lake, Clarenville

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