The first time, which came in mid-December, all four teams knew going in they would have more games in the 2012-2013 season. Tuesday night the stakes were completely different.
The first time around the Abilene Cowboys rolled to a 71-42 victory over Buhler. Once again, the Crusader boys knew their season would continue.
Tuesday night, however, the stakes were different.
Abilene, once again, won both games with the Cowgirls topping Buhler 54-48 and the Cowboys defeating the Crusaders 67-41.
This time the loses suffered by the Crusaders and the Lady Crusaders ended their seasons. The victories propelled the Abilene teams into the semifinals of the substate they are hosting.
The Cowgirls will face Hesston, a 60-20 victor over Smoky Valley in another first-round contest, Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at the Abilene Class 4A sub-state while the Cowboys will play host to McPherson, a 73-36 win over Smoky Valley on Tuesday night, at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night.
"Obviously, now it is survive and advance," Abilene Cowboy coach Terry Taylor said. "Which, we did, but we have to play four quarters of excellent basketball against a McPherson team Thursday night. They are a group that is very well coached, and very seasoned and very competitive. They believe they are going to win every time they step on the floor. So we are looking forward to the opportunity to play them here."
Hesston defeated Clay Center 71-45 in the other boys quarterfinal game played Tuesday night. Chapman will play at Concordia in the final quarterfinal contest Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in Concordia.
The other girls’ first round games saw Clay Center defeat Concordia 49-37 and McPherson defeat Chapman 69-14. Clay Center and McPherson’s girls teams will open play at Abilene Friday night at 6 p.m.
"We get to play on Friday night," Abilene Cowgirl coach Janelle Geist said. "You know what, there are 64 teams and now in the state there are 32 that are playing on Friday. It is great to be one of those 32. So our goal is just to win the next game. Just keep winning the next game."
In the girls’ game to open the evening Tuesday night, the Lady Crusaders led pretty much throughout the contest, as Buhler had a 15-13 lead after the first quarter, was up 29-22 at intermission.
The Cowgirls, however, outscored Buhler 15-8 in the third quarter to knot the score at 37-37 and then scored the first points of the final period to take their first lead of the game at 7:40 remaining when Carly Gassman connected on two free throws to give Abilene a 39-37 lead.
The lead changed hands three times in the final period and there was one other tie after the 37-37 knotting at the start of the fourth quarter but Abilene earned the victory by outscoring Buhler 8-1, including one 3-poniter from Kiley Crider with 2:19 remaining, over the final 3:11 of the contest to pick up the win and keep their season alive.
"I think what happened tonight was almost identical to the first time we played them," Geist said. "We went in the first time we played them down at 7 at half and we went in tonight down by 7 at half. Then in the third and fourth quarter it was just back and forth. We got a lead and stretched it a little bit and then just held on for the victory."
Belle Barberi led the Cowgirls with 16 points while Carly Gassman pitched in 13 and Kiley Crider added 10.
Buhler was led by Jessica Steffen’s 21 points. Steffen was the only Lady Crusader, who end their season with a 10-10 record, to score in double figures in the game.
Buhler hit the first bucket of the boys’ game, giving the Crusaders an early, and brief, 2-0 lead with just :06 seconds gone off the game clock.
But the Cowboys answered that early bucket with the next 6 points and a 10-2 run, to go in front 10-4 at the 3:36 mark of the first quarter. The Cowboys did not trail again in the game.
Abilene outscored Buhler 15-7 in the first quarter, led 38-19 at intermission, 50-30 going into the final period before settling for the 67-41 victory.
"I thought in the first half we had a pretty nice effort from our kids," Taylor said. "We opened up a nice lead, then we were kind of disappointed with things in the second half. It is hard to keep your intensity when you are up by 20. We basically traded baskets with them all the way through the third quarter and early in the fourth. Finally it did open up a little more at the end. But it is a win and you have got to feel good about that."
Jacob Harms led the Cowboys with 14 points while Andy Wilson added 11 and Matthew Barlow pitched in 10, including hit 3 3-point baskets.
Ryan Norquist, who knocked three 3-point shots for the Crusaders, was Buhler’s only player to score in double figures as he led the Crusaders with 11 points.