The junior girls' varsity basketball team at Bow Valley High School won the consolation final against a tough field of seven teams in the Holy Trinity Academy Invitational this weekend. 

The Bobcats met the eventual tournament winners, the Bowness Trojans, in their opening game before going on to beat the host team in the round robin and again in the consolation final.

Head Coach Kris Nielson says the tournament gave the Bobcats valuable experience in developing their zone offense and defense coverage. In Rocky View Schools basketball league zone defense isn't allowed, although the rule doesn't apply to the rest of the province. Most Rocky View teams also don't play zone in tournaments, either.

"It looked like we'd see teams from outside of RVSA, so I felt that we needed this tournament to develop our zone O and D and see what roles different team members could play in a variety of different zone strategies," explains Nielson. "It was experimental, despite some work in practice, but a good opportunity to teach."

The Bobcats lost to the much bigger and stronger Bowness team, 47-33, but there were many high points. Ellie Bates came off the bench to lead the team in scoring and she went on to have her best weekend as a Bobcat, scoring 29 points, including seven three-pointers. The Bobcats also outscored Bowness in the second half, 19-13.

At one point the Bobcats had a 22-point lead over Holy Trinity Knights in their second game and went on to win, 60-45. They struck with their zone defensive coverage. Sadie Nielson lead the Bobcats in scoring, hitting on five three-pointers and finishing strong at the rim. Natasha Boisvenue contributed with a huge rebounding and defensive effort while netting 10 points.

In the consolation final, they continued to improve and won 56-30, leading by as much as 34 points in the game.With defensive stopper and point guard Mikaela Murphy unable to play and Sadie Nielson injured, post guard Jorja Powers played all but a few minutes, controlling the tempo and leading the team in scoring with 17 points. Ellie Bates added four threes, giving the team a total of 16 over the weekend.

"Our players learned a lot this weekend including how to create for others and find the open player," says Neilson. "Of our 60 made field goals, 52 resulted from an assist for an incredible 87 per cent assist rate."

He points out that's especially impressive when you compare it to elite professional basketball teams, like the Golden State Warriors who have an assist rate of 71 per cent.

"The girls are learning how to play the right way and it’s entertaining and rewarding to watch them progress."

The experience will also come in handy for some tough divisional playoff matchups at the end of the month and the zones, which are being hosted by Bow Valley, Mar. 9-10.

The regular season of the RVS basketball division ends this week. Following a Family Day break, they will be competing in a Robert Thirsk tournament.

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