The Abilene Cowgirls season came to an end Thursday night in the opening round of the 4A State Tournament, at the Tony’s Pizza Event Center in Salina, in a 54-46 loss to Nickerson. Abilene had their 10 game winning streak snapped and ended the year at 20-3. The Lady Panthers improved to 20-3 on the year and will face Kansas City Piper tomorrow in the semifinals.
Abilene got off to a great start in the game. They led 14-6 at the end of the first quarter. Everything would change after that. The Cowgirls were outscored 48-32 over the final three quarters and had the tables turned on them in the fourth. Abilene’s recipe all season in victories was beating opponents at the line in the final quarter and getting their opponents in foul trouble. Nickerson did exactly that to Abilene. The Lady Panthers were 20-24 at the line in the final quarter and Abilene had three players foul out. Nickerson was 26-32 at the line in the game, the Cowgirls were 19-27.
The Cowgirls got big scoring games from their two Seniors, Sydney Burton and Hannah Willey. Burton finished with a game-high 23 points and Willey totaled 15 points. Abilene as a team struggled offensively. They shot 28% from the floor which was their second lowest total of the season, only behind their 26% effort in a loss to Andover in the S.I.T.
Nickerson got great production out of a lineup that featured four starters that were 5’7” or shorter. Senior, Alex Altum, was the tallest player in the Lady Panther lineup at 5’9” and finished with a double-double, with a team-high 14 points and game-high 13 rebounds. In all, Nickerson had four players in double figures. Nickerson lost 6’1” Junior, Morgan Stout January 4th in a victory over Andale, she averaged 19 points and 9 rebounds through seven games. Despite not having her, the Lady Panthers were dominant on the boards despite a lack of size. The won the rebounding battle 36-18.
There is much to be proud of for the Cowgirls. They were only the seventh team in school history to make it to state, they won the NCKL outright, were the #1 seed in the 4A West division and won 20 games.