The Cochrane High senior girls Cobras rebounded from a one-point loss in the semifinals to claim bronze in the 3A South Central Zone finals, Mar. 8-10.
In Strathmore, the Cobras came away with their first medal since 2012 and continue to build momentum towards this week's provincial championship being hosted by Cochrane High.
The Cobras beat Springbank, 70-19, in their opening game before facing a tough Strathmore Spartans squad in a semifinal matchup that could have gone either way. They lost ground early in the game and fought back to come within one, 61-60, when the buzzer went.
The Cobras had cut the Spartans lead to four with eight seconds left, then came within one before time ran out.
"It showed a lot of character by the kids," says Head Coach Randy Peron. "They didn't give up and they believed in themselves. It showed a nice character trait among all the players."
The Cobras refused to leave empty handed and controlled the better part of the bronze medal game against the Highwood Mustangs, 70-41.
The five senior members of the Cobras played a huge leadership role in the win, scoring 43 of their 70 points, says Peron. They held a narrow 18-15 early in the game but the turning point was a weakness Peron had noticed in the Highwood game earlier in the tournament. With three minutes remaining in the third, they went into a 1-3-1 zone defence that saw them limit the Mustangs to just four points for the balance of the game and only one point in the fourth.
Just how difficult has it been to medal in the South Central Zone of the Alberta Schools' Athletic Association? Extremely. Not only has it been six years since the Cobras won bronze, the last time they won gold was in 1999, points out Peron.
"It's always good to end the zones with a victory, so the kids were pretty excited and jacked. Watching them get the bronze medals around their necks was pretty exciting to see."
The Brooks Buffalos downed Strathmore in the final and will also be competing in the 3A provincials in Cochrane this week. The Buffalos are ranked fourth in the province while the Cobras are ranked 10th.
Despite this, Peron says you can't count out the Cobras.
"We feel we can do something special in provincials, even though we might be lower ranked. I think we can do something to surprise teams. We're playing really well right now. It's called March Madness for a reason."
"It's about peaking at the right time, and I feel we're at our peak right now. We've got three or four games left in this season and we're as ready as we can be."