Many successes have marked the varsity girls basketball season for both the Cochrane High Cobras and Bow Valley Bobcats and, in a sense, it almost seemed appropriate for them to close out their seasons with a match for the bronze medal in the ASAA south central zone playoffs.
After losing an overtime game to the Bobcats earlier this season, the Cobras opened up a large lead in the third quarter of the bronze medal game and went on to win 60-35.
Cobras head coach Randy Peron says his team executed the game plan to perfection and were able to capitalize on foul troubles being faced by the Bobcats, especially in the second half, where they outscored the Bobcats 34-15.
"They got into foul trouble so we kept putting the ball inside against them and it worked and it opened up our outside game."
Guard Megan Fehr was their top scorer with 16 points, Kiara Carter had 12 and in all 10 Cobras scored in the game.
Whether or not it was the cross-town team they were facing wasn't even a consideration in preparing his team for the game, says Peron.
"We were ready to play, It didn't matter if it was Bow Valley, it didn't matter who. I tried to get the focus more on winning the medal than who we were playing. I don't think there really is a rivalry. I think they are friends that play against each other and nothing more, so I wanted them to focus on a medal today, even if it was a bronze colour."
Bobcats head coach Kris Nielson agrees his team got into serious foul trouble early and it haunted them, particularly in the second half. By the fourth quarter, the game was out of reach.
The game prior both teams had lost their semifinal games to the Brooks Buffalos and Highwood Mustangs by the closest of margins. The Buffalos successfully defended their zone title by upsetting the number one ranked Mustangs, 47-45, who came into the tournament with a short bench.
Two successful seasons
It's been a tremendous year for Cochrane's varsity girls basketball in Rocky View Sports.
Having just completed his ninth season as the Cobras head coach, Peron says this one was big for the Cobras. They have their third divisional banner since he signed on, claimed bronze in zones and won two of five tough tournaments. The highlight of the season was unseating the five-time defending champion Chestermere team in the divisional final.
"The focus to me has always been divisionals first and we won it. We weren't the number one seed but we sure played like the number one seed because we dominated everybody. For us to beat the defending champions is very gratifying."
He plans to return to the team next season.
"I've already been thinking about it. I will be working with some kids in my club program in a week. Every year is different. I look forward to developing team chemistry and making them believe in my defense and offenses and see what happens when it counts next March."
His Red Jacket Premier Girls club basketball program starts next week.
Bobcats coach Nielson believes the winning experience for his team has positive ramifications well beyond the sports.
"It's made a world of difference to them and there's a lot more to this than basketball," says Nielson.
"They had a great time, they got to learn things, they had a ton of fun. both in the practices and outside of basketball and just as a team. So they were able to bond as a team and have that cohesion and have that culture that sometimes just turn people's lives around."
The Bobcats had a 25-8 record overall, an improvement from a 5-15 record in 2017-18. They finished first in the Rocky View league and won four tournaments.
"Our best game of the season was a statement performance in a 63-35 victory over Brooks in late February that solidified a 12th ranking provincially," says Nielson.
Looking toward next season they had three returning grade 11s and one grade 10, including their starting point guard, leading scorer and our best defensive player. He looks forward to bringing up a very good group of grade 10s from the junior varsity team.
"So we’re looking at another crack at provincials despite this year slipping through our fingers by the slimmest of margins."
Nielson will now focus on his Eagles Basketball Academy that begins Mar. 26. The academy has a U15 boys team that will be competing in both league play and tournaments and a U17 girls team who will be playing in tournaments.
Below photo gallery by Mike Reece and Noel Edey. Many thanks to Mike for his generous contribution.