A pair of high school male basketball teams found themselves listed in an unfamiliar place recently.
The first rankings for the Hall of Fame Cup were recently released late last week and on that list were the Elwood High Lakers in Deer Lake and the Exploits Valley High Eagles in Grand Falls-Windsor.
Respectively, the Lakers found themselves ranked fifth out of eight teams, while the Eagles were eight of eight. The teams are joined on the list by teams from Holy Heart High (St. John’s), Gonzaga High (St. John’s), O’Donel High (Mount Pearl), Mount Pearl High, Corner Brook High and Holy Trinity High (Torbay).
Otherwise known as the Elite 8 tournament, the Hall of Fame Cup is held in St. John’s every year and is presented as a showcase for 16 of the top male and female high school basketball teams in the province. This year’s event is scheduled for Feb. 7-9 at the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Centre in the capital city.
A committee determines where teams are placed based on scores from the first two months of competition.
“It was a surprise (to be in rankings), but we know we still have work to do,” said Exploits Valley coach Nathan Sullivan.
This is the first time the Eagles have been ranked for the Hall of Fame Cup in the several years Sullivan has coached there and they aren’t satisfied with just being listed there. They’re focused on improving their rank for when the next list is released early in the new year.
“It holds you accountable, really,” said Sullivan. “Now, when we go out ... every game is like a championship game.”
The Eagles have had a strong start to their season despite having two tournaments cancelled on them. Sullivan believes he has a group dedicated to improving and they’re constantly pushing themselves in practice.
Just eight teams in each division are invited to attend the event and that invitation is solely based upon rankings.
Traditionally, those rankings have been filled with mostly teams from the metro region and Corner Brook. While there have been outlying selections the last several years, like Fatima Academy in St. Bride’s and Stella Maris Academy in Trepassey on the male side, and Laval High School in Placentia on the female side.
“(The rankings) indicates your program is being recognized,” said Elwood High coach Jim Feltham. “We were a little bit surprised with the fifth place ranking.”
His Elwood Lakers team is off to a good start this season with a pair of tournament wins and the opportunity to pick up a couple of more in the future. It was their first appearance in the Hall of Fame Cup rankings in several years.
So far this season they also have a win over Corner Brook, the team ranked ahead of them.
Feltham feels he has a good young team this year and is hoping to continue making some noise
“It is all good right now,” he said.