ABILENE, Kan.—One of Class 3A’s best basketball high schools ventured into Class 4A’s Abilene Tuesday night for a doubleheader.
Tuesday night, at least, the Abilene Cowboys and Cowgirls showed that in basketball bigger is better as they swept the Eagles and Lady Eagles.
The rankings, seedings, winning streaks and records, as is usually the case in high school athletics, were all tossed out the window in both games as both games were tooth and nail for the first three quarters of each game before Abilene closed out strong in the fourth quarter of each game to secure a 46-38 win in the girls’ contest and a 70-57 victory in the boys game.
"I thought that was an excellent high school basketball game," Abilene Cowboy coach Terry Taylor said. "Silver Lake has a very nice team, for a 3A school, the first half they played us neck and neck, so to speak."
In the girls’ game there were five lead changes, three in the opening quarter, and two in the final period and neither team led by more than nine points throughout the entire contest.
That 9-point lead, which Abilene landed when the Cowgirls’ Kiley Crider opened the third quarter with a 3-pointer, to make the score 27-18.
In the boys’ game, Abilene basically led throughout the contest, but didn’t lead by more than 8 points until the final period when the Cowboys opened the period with a 16-5 run, which pushed the lead to its highest point at 66-45 with 3:24 to play.
"I think we were up 20 in the second half, so that is a nice second half when you come out after halftime of a close game and extend it out to 20 points. This kind of competition is going to prepare us for the rest of the season."
Belle Barberi led Abilene with 18 points while Nicole Taylor added 13 for the Cowgirls. McKenzie Freeman led Silver Lake with 12 points while Ashlyn Linn added 10.
"I think we played a really good defensive game," Abilene coach Janelle Geist said. "For most of the time we took care of the ball, we just got a lead and maintained until the end. We made some free throws and made some big shots at the end and held together as a team. We made some shots at the end to seal the victory."
Silver Lake’s Tyler Brown led all scorers in the boys’ game with 24 points. Abilene was led by Keil Kelly’s 21 points while Andy Wilson added 15, Jacob Harms scored 11 and Matthew Barlow pitched in 10 for the Cowboys.
Evan Burdiek added 13 for the Eagles.
Abilene returns to the court this Friday when it travels to Wamego for a North Central Kansas League showdown with the Raiders.
"I thought their kids outhustled us and got a lot of the 50-50 balls in the first half," Taylor said. "I want to give out kids credit because I thought in the second half we came out with more intensity."