THE CENTRAL VOICE
GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, N.L. — The Exploits Valley High Eagles male basketball team took a strong step towards its goal to claim a Hall of Fame Cup.
The Grand Falls-Windsor-based squad emerged from the 4th annual Caroline Penney Memorial Tiger Cup as champions after a lopsided 90-61 victory over the host Holy Trinity Tigers of Torbay last weekend.
“We expected to go out and compete,” said coach Nathan Sullivan. “We played some good teams.”
The Eagles, sitting eighth in the latest round of Hall of Fame Cup rankings heading into the tournament, were taking part in their first competition after the Christmas break.
En route to their final victory, they finished with two wins (Holy Trinity and O’Donel High B) and one loss (St. Kevin’s) in the round robin. It was enough to earn them a bye in the semifinals where they beat Mount Pearl Senior High 91-88 to head to the final.
“The more games (the players) got, the more they trusted each other, the more they gelled and the more they started listening to their coaches. We just seen improvement through the whole tournament,” said Sullivan.
The tournament in Torbay served a couple of purposes for Exploits Valley High. Not only did it give them actual competition, which can be a struggle for teams outside the metro region, but it also let them match up with two teams they’re chasing in the Hall of Fame Cup rankings.
Dubbed the Elite Eight, the Hall of Fame Cup pits the provinces’ top eight male and female division high school teams against each other.
Heading into the tournament, the Eagles were behind the seventh ranked Holy Trinity and the sixth ranked Mount Pearl Senior High.
They beat both of those teams in the tournament.
“If we didn’t win the gold medal, just going out there and beating those two teams would have been huge for us,” said Sullivan. “We done that and we came out with a championship.
“We had to go out to that tournament and do really well and that is what we did.”
The Eagles must now wait to see where they’ll fall when the next round of rankings are released ahead of the tournament scheduled Feb.
7-9 in St. John’s.
However, should a Hall of Fame Cup appearance not materialize, the Eagles’ victory in Torbay was good for the team’s confidence as they continue toward achieving a provincial high school championship.
“It showed we can get out and compete against top teams,” said Sullivan. “We did a lot of things really well.”