The Bow Valley Bobcats varsity boys basketball is heading to the Rocky View finals against the Chestermere Lakers on Saturday after an intense 76-69 win over the Cochrane Cobras.
A boisterous crowd rocked Bow Valley High like never before in the Rocky View divisional semifinal playoff game between the cross-town rivals on Mar. 2. It was basketball fever at its best.
- WATCH: https://youtu.be/XbIcZtVMjkY
Late in the fourth quarter, the Bobcats were able to break away with an 11-point lead, then slowed the pace of the game in the dying minutes to come away with the win.
"I think we came out a little flat, but we regrouped," says Bobcats head coach Kris Nielson, "They listened, and they went out and played their game."
The Bobcats collapsed in the fourth quarter to lose their only regular season game to the Cobras in mid-January. Bobcats head coach Kris Nielson believes they learned something from that experience.
"At the beginning of the game, we played like we played in the fourth quarter of that last game. That's what I struggled with, the same type of play, and so we changed that up here in the second half."
The victory was particularly sweet for Bobcats like Paulo Cuesta.
"Ever since I came to Bow Valley in grade 9, there's always been the same attitude that Bob Valley never wins, and now we've broken that curse. There's a spirit of enjoyment right now."
The crowds have been growing as the season progressed for the Bobcats, and the players have noticed, and appreciate the support.
Having people from across the community come together to pack the Bobcats-Cobras game was an even greater experience.
"It's a great environment, you know because you never see something like this," says Cuesta. "It's a Cochrane Classic. Having the entire Town of Cochrane watching this battle of rival high schools is great. It's fun."
Nielson is in his second season as head coach of the Bobcats varsity boys team and since the beginning of the season has expressed confidence in his team's potential to go all the way this season after being plagued by injuries last year.
"We're fully healthy now, so the only ones who can beat us now are ourselves."
In 2018, Nielson coached the Bobcats junior girls' basketball team to their first zone banner in 16 years. He's hoping for similar success at the 3A south-central zones to earn a berth into the provincial championship.
In the final ASAA 3A basketball rankings heading into next weekend's zone championships, the Bobcats are ranked seventh in the province, up two notches. Cochrane High continues to receive an honourable mention and is the reigning 3A provincial champion.
While this is the last time they'll meet in Rocky View this season, these two teams are on the same side of the draw for the zone championship in Strathmore and may meet again.