Corner Brook Regional High Titans basketball players Graham Kenny, left, and Thomas Byrne are seen during practice Wednesday at the school. — Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
To put it positively, losing can be a great motivator.
Just ask Chris Dobbin, a first-year player with the Corner Brook Regional High Titans senior boys basketball team.
Despite solid showings all year, the team has yet to actually win a tournament — thanks, mostly, to the Gonzaga High Vikings of St. John’s.
The Vikings defeated the Titans in the final of the Wendy’s Classic in November, before ousting their Corner Brook counterparts in the semifinals of December’s Sweet 16 Invitational.
“I really want to face Gonzaga,” said Dobbin, referencing this weekend’s Hall of Fame Cup tournament out east. “I know we can beat them, we just haven’t played to our full potential.
“Those are our rivals for sure.”
Dobbin, the son of Corner Brook’s Ron and Barb, has a near-unquenchable thirst for competition. He’s dabbled in just about every sport available in this neck of the woods — including soccer, bowling, baseball and even lacrosse — but basketball stands out as his favourite.
“Because it goes on all throughout the year,” he said.
He began playing the game about eight years ago, and now the 15-year-old Level 1 student is a major part of the Titans’ rebuild this year. Last season’s team was so successful — nearly running the table as the province’s only undefeated squad, up until the championship game of the 4A provincials — it raised the bar for what could be considered success for the Corner Brook school’s basketball program.
This young squad has, for the most part, been equal to the challenge.
“The team last year was so amazing, but now we have seven people that are younger than Grade 12,” said Dobbin. “I didn’t think it was going to be as good, but we’re doing pretty well.”
All their oh-so-close finishes in tournaments this year can be improved upon still, Dobbin says, if the Titans concentrate as much on preventing points as they do on scoring them.
“We’ve just got to take care of the ball,” he said. “Our offence is fine, but defence is the key.”
That the Titans are the defending champions at the Hall of Fame Cup could potentially increase the pressure the club might face this weekend — it will certainly magnify the bull’s-eye on their collective backs for the other seven teams — but Dobbin isn’t buying it.
“I would leave that in the past because it was a completely different team,” he said. “We just need to go out there and do our thing.”
The final set of Elite Eight male rankings for the Hall of Fame Cup, released by NLBA on Feb. 11:
2) Booth Memorial
3) Corner Brook
4) Holy Heart
6) Mount Pearl
7) Holy Trinity
8) Holy Spirit