The Abilene High School basketball teams traveled to Clay Center Friday night for their first meeting of the season with the Tigers. In the first game the Cowgirls fell 34-21 but trailed by only 5 points at the end of the third quarter. In the boy’s matchup, the Cowboys lost a big lead for a second straight game but held on for a 56-52 victory.
The Clay Center girls improved to 6-0, 3-0 on the season after their 13 point victory over Abilene. They are currently ranked #5 in Class 4A and feature one of the state’s best players in 6’ Senior, Clara Edwards. The game looked like a mismatch on paper as they Cowgirls entered the contest winless through 4 games. Abilene didn’t look like a winless team though, as they gave the Lady Tigers all they could handle.
The Cowgirls did struggle on offense both scoring and with turnovers but remained in the game with defense. Abilene led 5-4 at the end of the first quarter. The Tigers got a big second quarter out of Edwards. She finished with 9 of her game-high 20 points in the second quarter. The Lady Tigers scored 15 in the quarter and took a 19-12 advantage into halftime.
Abilene held Clay Center to just 2 points in the third quarter and trailed 21-16 as they two rivals headed to the fourth. The Lady Tigers went on to pull away in the final quarter for the victory. The Cowgirls were led by Abi Lillard and Allison Liby, who both finished with 5 points each. Liby was the Nex-Tech Wireless Player of the Game. She was a constant pest for Clay Center all all night on the boards and on the defense end of the floor.
The boy’s game was reminiscent of Tuesday’s contest for Abilene. In that game, the Cowboys blew a 15 point third quarter lead and lost the game. Friday, Abilene led 39-18 with 43 seconds left in the first half and took a 39-21 lead into the locker room.
Clay Center cut the deficit to 10 at the end of the third quarter, with the score 48-38. In the fourth quarter, the Tigers got 5 straight points from Mark Hoffman. He hit a three-pointer with 2:39 left in the game to cut the Abilene lead to 50-49. The Cowboys would go on to hit 6 of their final 8 free-throw attempts to put the game away at the line for the four point win.
The Cowboys improved to 4-2, 2-1 with the victory, while Clay Center dropped to 1-6, 0-4 with the loss. The Cowboys were led by Kaleb Becker, who finished with a game-high 17 points. Abilene also got double figures from Avery Bryson 16 and Blaise McVann tied his career-high with 10. The Tigers were led by Blake Frederick, who finished with 15. Clay Center also got double figures from Mark Hoffman with 11 and Lucas Rosenow, who finished with 10.
Abilene will return home Monday for make-ups games with Chapman. Clay Center travels to Fairbury, Nebraska Saturday.