The Abilene High School basketball teams opened play Thursday at the Salina Invitational Tournament. The Abilene Cowboys used a big offensive second half in their 75-55 victory over Liberal. The Cowgirls put together one of their best efforts of the season in their 44-40 loss to Salina South.
In the boy’s game, Abilene overcame hot three-point shooting from Liberal in the first quarter. The Redskins buried five three-pointers in the opening quarter but only led 21-20 at the end quarter. Travis Beetch kept the Cowboys in the game with his scoring. He scored 14 of his game-high 26 points in the first quarter. The game remained tight going to the half, as Liberal took a 32-30 lead into the locker room
The final two quarters belonged to Abilene. The Redskins took a 34-32 lead with 6:03 to go in the third quarter but Abilene would take control with a 20-2 run capped by a three-pointer by Blaise McVann which made the score 52-36 with 49 seconds to play in the third. The Cowboys weren’t done they then used a 14-0 run in the fourth quarter to lead by as many as 26 points on their way to the 20 point victory.
The #4 Cowboys improved to 5-3 with the victory and will play top-seeded Andover tomorrow at 4:30 at Kansas Wesleyan in the semifinals. #5 Liberal fell to 5-6 with the loss and will play Salina Central in consolation play.
In the girls contest, #4 Salina South couldn’t put #5 Abilene away all night. The Cowgirls entered the game on a three game slide with lop-sided losses to Chapman, Wamego and Marysville. Thursday the Cowgirls were able to stay in the game with the play of Beth Holmes and Abi Lillard. Holmes tied her career high with 17 points and Lillard totaled a new career high with 12 points.
Abilene fell behind by as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter but got it down to 3 points with 10 seconds left but the Lady Cougars Kylie Arnold put the game away with a free-throw with 4.4 seconds left in the game.
The Cowgirls fell to 3-5 with the loss and will play Andover tomorrow at 3 pm at Salina Central. Salina South improved to 6-4 with the victory and will face top-seeded and back to back S.I.T. Champs Liberal. The Lady Redskins defeated Andover 54-21 in the opening round.