By JOHN ANDERSON
Back in the late 1980’s a Super 5 basketball team was put together by the now-defunct Wellsville Daily Reporter and Hornell Evening Tribune, which had a special Saturday newspaper, mainly for sports.
By 1990, it became the Great 8, a team made up of seven players and one coach for girls and boys. In 1994, the two newspapers on Sunday were called the Sunday Spectator and it evolved into eight players and one coach of the year and a second team. Over the years, we added a third team.
Because this team means more than any other team, from county all-stars to other publications.
With Gannett taking over the former newspapers, closing the Wellsville paper print edition, delivery and even website, and cutting staff back so sports reporters can not attend games or see the players, the Great 8 ended three years ago.
With the birth of the Wellsville Sun and Hornell Sun and six reporters and photographers out every single night watching players from 28 schools, coaches and administrators asked us to bring the Great 8 back.
And we are.
In the 90’s, we would meet at Manhattan West in Alfred, the sports writers from Wellsville, Hornell and the Steuben Courier Advocate of Bath and argue over the Great 8 for hours and hours.
Unfortunately, as circulation dropped, so did picking student-athletes from schools in outlying areas.
With the re-birth of the Great 8, students from Bath Haverling, Avoca-Prattsburgh, Campbell-Savona, Dansville, Wayland-Cohocton, Bolivar-Richburg, Fillmore, Cuba-Rushford and others are back part of the Great 8.
Over the past three months, we have attended games and exchanged emails, texts and phone calls about different players.
We watched some incredible coaching and incredible performances. The team, players of the year and coaches of the year have been finalized. They have been invited to a photo shoot with a professional photographer and we will have features on them all.
Other than the Batavia Daily News and Livingston County News, no other all-star team picked by a publication can say they went out and saw each player compete. It’s what makes this team so special over the years.
The tireless work put in by the sportswriters at the Tribune and Reporter over the years is being maintained, archived and kept alive because it’s too important to retire.
Thank you to the fans, coaches and players for wanting us to bring this back and, of course, our sponsors who make sure we can cover games and bring the results to the public on the wellsvillesun.com and hornellsun.com for free, without pop-up ads, pay walls and digital subscriptions for certain stories.
And stay tuned for the return of the Sun Great 8!