There wasn’t much reason for optimism Tuesday night as the Abilene Cowgirls opened sub-state at Wamego. Abilene finished the regular season 5-15 and had lost their last nine games. The Cowgirls are the #14 seed and Wamego the #3 seed. The Lady Red Raiders were 2-0 against Abilene during the regular season which included a 34 point victory over Abilene in Wamego on January 14th. The Lady Red Raiders had a season to remember they were undefeated at home, Co-NCKL champions and ranked #6 by the coaches. All of that didn’t matter. Abilene locked down defensively and won 32-19.
The Cowgirls won the game in the 4th quarter. When Abilene lost to Wamego in January they were in the midst of a five game slide in which they weren’t competitive. Abilene started to play more competitive basketball at the Salina Invitational Tournament and continued through the end of the regular season. Despite a long losing streak to end the regular season, the Cowgirls had several close losses. They had a pair of three point losses to Hays, missed a three-pointer late at Marysville which would have tied the game and were down by just one against Chapman with a minute left in the game in the regular season-finale.
Against Wamego Tuesday night, Abilene outscored Wamego 12-4 in the final quarter and finished the game on a 9-0 run. Abilene was led in scoring by Sophomore Jenna Hayes. She finished with a game-high 12 points with 9 of those coming in the final quarter. She connected on 4-5 free-throws in the final quarter to help the Cowgirls close out the game.
Senior, Beth Holmes finished with 11 points and was big early in the game. Wamego took a quick 2-0 lead but Holmes would hit a three to answer and the Cowgirls wouldn’t trail the rest of the night. She scored Abilene’s first 8 points of the game. The Cowgirls led 8-3 at the end of the first quarter and took a 17-8 advantage into halftime. Senior, Jade Vopat hit a pair of threes in the second quarter including one with :21 seconds left in the half to give the Cowgirls the momentum headed into the locker room.
Abilene struggled in the third quarter just like they had in the previous meeting. The Cowgirls lost 44-33 on Valentine’s day to Wamego. In that game the Lady Red Raiders used a 15-3 third quarter to erase a half-time deficit. Tuesday night, Abilene was outscored 7-3 in the third quarter and held a 20-15 lead as they entered the fourth quarter. The Cowgirls kept their lead, despite struggles on offense because of their great defense. Abilene held Wamego to just 8-45 shooting in the game for 17%.
The Cowgirls improved to 6-15 with the victory and Wamego ended their season at 16-5. Abilene will now travel to Clay Center on Friday. Game time is set for 7 pm. #5 Clay Center defeated #11 Pratt 50-36 Tuesday night. Abilene was 0-2 against the Lady Tigers during the regular season and lost 55-25 on February 21 in Clay Center in their most recent meeting.