Both the Cochrane High Cobras and Bow Valley Bobcats varsity girls basketball teams are fired up and ready for the long season ahead.

The teams have been preparing since the beginning of November and both have played some exhibition in advance of their Rocky View Sports (RVS) season that opens tonight.

The Cochrane Cobras are on the road tonight to face the defending league champion Chestermere Lakers.

The Lakers are in a rebuilding mode this season after having a strong core of grade 12 players moving on, but Cobras head coach Randy Peron doesn’t sell them short.

“Chestermere is the defending league champions and I don’t care what people say about them. Until somebody takes them out they’re the defending league champions. I’m very superstitious that way."

Still, the Cobras are a team to watch this year as they strive to win the division and zone and advance to the provincials. Peron says he’s never had as many returning grade 12 players on the roster.

“This year I have eight players coming back and I’ve coached them all in the offseason as well so what we have been running is now a refresher course.”

“They know what we’re running so now it’s a matter of refinement. The newer players are picking up and I’m spending more time with them because they are new but the eight returning and the grade 11s who I’ve worked with in the offseason are good to go.”

Last Friday they had an exhibition game against Robert Thirsk, of Calgary. In addition to Rocky View play, they will be playing in five tournaments with the stiffest competition coming in February.

“I like the February schedule because we it allows us to get better and better and be ready for playoffs.”

Cochrane High hosted last year’s provincials and received a berth as a host school. They are eager to get another shot at it this year.

“We’re big, we’re fast, we’re strong at the guards, we’re strong at the forwards. We ended up fifth last year and eight of them are back from provincials, so they want to do better.”

Bobcats head coach Kris Nielson says they too are taking aim at winning some championships and the team has been practicing regularly since Nov. 1.

The Bobcats hosted an exhibition mini-tournament over the weekend against three teams they lost close ones to last season. The Bobcats soundly won all their games with the closest being a 36-point differential.

“We thought it would be good to stay home and play some early games,” says Neilson. “I think it gives them some confidence moving forward.”

There’s 11 on the team’s bench and seven are returning seniors with three grade 11s and one grade 10.

“The biggest thing right now is to get the kids up to speed on all the different systems, offensive and defensive. We got into the systems pretty quickly so that we could hit the ground running when we go into our games.”

“What I’m seeing is we have quite a few talented athletes and now we just have to make sure we can take all that athletism and put it into something that is organized.”

Besides RVS play, they are entered into seven tournaments this year and like Cochrane High, they are selected to build momentum for playoffs and to get exposure to some of the teams they’ll potentially be facing down the road.

He’s expecting a fair amount of parity in the Rocky View league this year

“We figure it’s going to be a pretty competitive league this year like it was a couple of years ago,” says Neilson. “Cochrane looks like they’ll be the one to beat.”

Neilson coached last year’s junior Bobcat team to a zone championship and their games against the Cobras were exciting and action-packed right until the final buzzer.

The Bobcats have a bye in the opening week of RVS play and are headed to a tournament in Rocky Mountain House this weekend. Next Wednesday they host the Bert Church Chargers in their RVS opener.

The season is now underway for all high school basketball teams for a season that has several interruptions and an equal number of high points. That includes the 11th annual Cochrane Classic, Dec. 13-15, that involves Cochrane High, Bow Valley and St. Timothy.

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