The Abilene High School basketball teams advanced to the 4A Division I basketball tournament in Salina next week with a pair of wins over Ottawa. The two games couldn’t have been more different. In the first game the Cowgirls cruised to a 65-30 victory over The Lady Cyclones, while in the second game the Cowboys needed late game heroics in their 55-52 win over Ottawa.
The girl’s game was never close as the Cowgirls jumped out to a 27-7 lead at the end of the first quarter and never looked back. The Cowgirls got up by as much as 39 points in the third quarter on their way to a 35 point win. There was a running clock for the entire fourth quarter. Abilene was led on the night by Senior Jessica Hayes, who finished with a career high 19 points.
With the win the Cowgirls improved 16-6 on the season and move on to state for a second straight season. Abilene lost in overtime in the first round of state last year 62-60 to Paola, who finished as runner-up.
The second game featured a match-up of two top ten teams. Ottawa entered the game ranked 3rd, owners of a 17-5 record and a seven game winning streak. That would all come to an end on one shot. The Cowboys had moved ahead by six, which was their largest lead of the game with 1:00 to go on a Parker Base bucket. Ottawa would counter with a 6-0 run on back to back three point plays. The last coming on an Issac McCullough bucket and free throw with :36 left to tie the game at 52. That’s when Abilene turned to their Senior, veteran, leading scorer Ryan Wilson. Wilson connected on a deep straightaway three as time expired to give the Cowboys their first trip to state since 2013.
Abilene trailed most of the first half. The first quarter saw six lead changes and Cowboys behind 19-16. Ottawa would lead for the entire second quarter and take a 33-29 advantage into the locker room. Wilson kept Abilene in the game in the first half with 12 of his 16 points. Abilene started out the second half on an 8-2 run to take their first lead since the opening quarter at 37-35, on a pair of Ben Veach free throws, with 3:58 left in the quarter. The Cowboys wouldn’t trail the rest of the way.
Abilene improved to 19-3 with the win and was led in scoring by Senior Parker Base, who scored 14 of his career high 20 points in the second half. Wilson finished the game with 16 points for the Cowboys, but as good as the offense was the defense was even better. Abilene has won throughout the season with their defense and it came through again. Abilene held Ottawa Senior to 15 points, which is 8 below his average. The tandem of McCullough and Perry Carroll scored 39 points vs Wamego in the semifinals, but were limited to 27 points in the loss to Abilene Saturday night.
The Abilene boys will play Wednesday and the girls Thursday in the 4A Division I State Basketball Tournament in Salina at the Tony’s Pizza Event’s Center.