Travelling in different directions from Cochrane over the weekend, two Bow Valley Bobcats basketball teams both returned with medals.
The senior girls' team won their third tournament of the season in Canmore while the junior boys' team won their third medal of the season in Camrose.
On the way to their gold medal match, the senior girls beat Nelson, 70-42, then the Webber Academy, 51-27, in the semifinals. They won the championship game, 51-27, against the Foundation Academy.
The senior girls have a maximum of nine games remaining before the ASAA south central zone championship tournament.
Nielson says it's not so much about peaking in time for playoffs but the team realizing its ability to compete with anyone in the province.
Tonight, Feb. 11, they play their final regular-season Rocky View game against the Springbank Phoenix in a game that doubles as their Seniors Night to recognize graduating players. They have already clinched first in the league, and receive a bye into the semifinals on Mar. 5.
Nielson says they'll use the game to test their resolve in preparation for the playoffs.
"We'd like to set the table for what we want to do in the playoffs," says Nielson. "You know, really come out focused, and energetic, and prepared to live up to the expectations that we put on ourselves."
It's the second consecutive year they have finished first in Rocky View.
"Last year, we were pressed to be in first. This year I think we're a pretty solid first place."
For the junior boys, returning with a bronze medal was huge, explains coach Wade Horb.
"It may not be a first-place finish as the tournament in Canmore, however, it was truly David vs Goliath. The other teams were chalked full of grade 11s with few grade 10s."
In contrast, the rebuilding Bobcats have a youthful squad of eight grade 9s and five grade 10s.
The Bobcats beat Sylvan Lake by 10 points in their opening game, then lost to Notre Dame, placing them in the bronze medal game.
Here they beat a much taller Lacombe, 84-72. Horb says Lacome had a 6'6" player and four guys somewhere between 6'2" and 6'3". Horb says they weren't intimidated by the size difference.
"They have come so far in such a short time that when they saw the other team take the floor, not one of them was scared.
"It's nice to have a 12-point win against a team that anybody sitting in the stands would have thought we had no busy winning. Everyone on the floor, including our parents, believed in it, big time."
They've competed in six tournament this season, and now have a gold medal and two third-place finishes.
"The future looks bright, for these kids. The parents come together cheering on the kids, and they can see that the kids support one and other."
Helping to make that possible is support from 5th Avenue Barbershop, River Heights Eye Care and POD Marketing.
"They've been great. They don't ask for much in return. They just say if we can help kids play a game that they love, and it never comes down to a financial issue, then they're happy to do so."