The Abilene High School basketball teams hosted Chapman Tuesday night in front of a near capacity crowd. The underdogs in each match-up gave the favored team everything they could handle. In the first game of the night, the Chapman girls scored the final 8 points of the game on their way to a 44-35 victory. With the win, the Lady Irish tied Clay Center and Wamego for the NCKL title. The league championship is Chapman’s first title since 2006. Even bigger for the Lady Irish they secured a top-4 finish to secure home-court for sub-state. In the nightcap, the Cowboys used a big run at the end of the third quarter to help propel them to a 59-48 victory. Abilene won the NCKL outright with the win, it was their 8th league title either shared or outright in the last decade under Terry Taylor.
The Chapman girls were not able to put Abilene away until the final two minutes of the game. The Lady Irish led 32-24 at the end of the third quarter which was their big lead of the game at that time. Abilene started the fourth quarter on a 11-4 run that was capped on a bucket by Abi Lillard to pull the Cowgirls within 36-35 with 2:19 left in the game. Abilene would be held scoreless the rest of the way.
The Lady Irish got a huge night from Senior, Ashlynn Bledsoe, who finished with a game-high 21 points. Abilene got 12 points from both Beth Holmes and Jenna Hayes in the loss. Chapman wrapped up the regular season with a 16-4, 8-2 records while Abilene fell to 5-14, 2-8.
In the boy’s game, Chapman used a box and one to slow down Travis Beetch. Beetch, averaged 17.4 ppg as he entered the game, he was held to 4 points which matched his low point total for the season which he also had against Augusta. His teammates stepped up though, Grant Heintz 13 and Blaise McVann 10 both poured in career-highs. Kaleb Becker finished the game strong with 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter and Avery Bryson also reached double figures with 10.
The Cowboys fell behind 33-28 with 3:08 left in the third quarter. Abilene would then go on a 14-0 run to take control of the game. Becker capped the run with a bucket, to make the score 42-33 Abilene, with 7:02 left in the game. The Cowboys would not trail the rest of the night.
Abilene improved to 13-6, 9-1 and remain in the top 4 of the 4A west standings after the victory. With a win versus Hays Thursday Abilene will secure home court for the post-season. Chapman fell to 7-13, 2-8 with the loss. The Irish were led by Camden Liebau, who finished with 12 points.