Sinking the Chestermere Lakers teams in the Rocky View Sports divisional basketball finals has been tough in recent years, but the Cochrane High Cobras varsity boys and girls team did it.
At the Mar. 2 divisional finals at Airdrie’s Bert Church, the boys split open the game to take a massive 17 point lead by the end of the third and only gave back a few points in the fourth to win the title, 77-64. The two teams were only separated by one at the end of the first half, 29-28.
The Cobra girls team fought back from a third-quarter surge by the Lakers that cut the Cobras' lead to a mere five points by the end of the thirds (43-38). They controlled the bulk of the play in the fourth to widen the gap to nine points with five minutes remaining, then 15 by the final buzzer for a 60-45 victory.
These are two championships the Cobras have been determined to win in what is clearly a tightly-contest sport in Rocky View.
Girls head coach Randy Peron says he's proud of the team's execution of the gameplan and believes having a strong core of seniors made a difference.
"We were prepared for them," says Peron. "They have a really good half-court press and we busted it up big time today, especially in the first half."
He says it's hard to dominate an entire game and when the Lakers threatened in the third the team didn't lose its composition.
"When they came back on us and won the third, we regrouped and did what we did in the first half and we opened it up again. So it shows the experience does pay because we lost to them in the finals last year."
Megan Fehr is one of those senior players and was among those thrilled to claim the divisional title.
“We’ve been competing and battling but it hasn’t turned out in our favour the last few years. Winning this championship especially means a lot to us seniors in our last season with the team.”
"Tonight we came out strong right away and carried it through the whole game. I think that was the winning difference.”
Boys head coach Patrick Court says they have had their mind on this potential matchup since the teams met in the first game of the season.
"The first time we played them we gave them way too many open shots," says Court. "They penetrated the kick out and we were so committed to helping each other that we weren't there to take away that kick out pass. So today we were prepared for that."
"Our focus all year has been on the team defense. Winning one-on-one battles but playing together as a team defensively, helping out when we need to and making switching out when we have to. There are some guys who played heavy minutes today and their main job was to play defense and they did it was great to see that.
Jonah Bosch was in foul trouble and sat out the second quarter. His return in the third had a huge impact on the Cobras' momentum.
"When he came out in the third I think that was the spark plug for us. His energy and intensity helped lift the whole team so he was the fuel for our fire today."
Griffin Sharkey, one of the team's captains in his last season with the Cobras, says this game has been on his mind since the first time they met this season.
"Over time I think we just progressed better than they did. They lit us up in that first game and we had nothing to answer with. In this game, everybody contributed on our team while they played a lot of their starters and they didn't go far into their bench. Our depth really took over."
The team has proven its ability to collectively find a way to win.
"It all depends on what the team needs and what we're going up again. I know a lot of guys on our bench will be hot and cold when it comes to three-point shooting, so you just contribute wherever you can and everybody does what needs to done and I think everybody did."
Sharkey has been recruited to play post-secondary basketball in Spokane after graduating from Cochrane High.
While Bow Valley Bobcats varsity boys didn't compete in divisional play this season, they worked hard in two tournaments.
It took overtime to determine the winner between the Bert Church Chargers and the Cobras in the boys divisional final. In the end, the Chargers won gold with a 55-53 win.
In junior girls, W. H. Croxford overcame the Bow Valley Bobcats, 67-50. The Bobcats advance to the final after upsetting the first place George McDougall Mustangs in a semifinal matchup. The Cobras lost the bronze medal game to the Mustangs, 55-50.
All teams now advance to their respective zone finals this weekend. Cochrane High is hosting the varsity girls zone championship while the other teams are on the road.