By RON PRESTON
CLAY CENTER – When you are hot, you are hot.
That was the case for the Clay Center Tigers girls’ basketball team Friday night against the Abilene Cowgirls.
“That was a good basketball team tonight, a great shooting team,” Coach Janelle Geist said following the 60 – 55 North Central Kansas League loss to the Lady Tigers.
Senior guard Alyx Bloom scored 30 points to lead the Lady Tigers. Bloom is one of two starting senior guards, the other being Alysa Steppe who added 14 points, accounting for over half of Clay Center’s total points scored.
“Both their guards are seniors who have been starting since they were sophomores,” said coach Geist as she talked about the strong effort of Bloom and Steppe following the game.”We expected their aggressiveness and they are a good shooting team,” added coach Geist.
The two Clay Center guards connected on 6 of 10 three point shots converted by the team. Five of the treys were scored in the first quarter, which the Tigers led 22 – 14.
The Cowgirls played a ma -to-man defense against the Lady Tigers in hopes of shutting them down. But the lead in the first half of 10 points was just too much for the Cowgirls to come back.
However, the Cowgirls playing a stronger second half and cut away at the 10 point deficit to close the game to a 4 point margin.
Leading the way for the Cowgirls was Courtney Geist with 13 points, scoring seven in the second half comeback effort.
Senior Kiley Crider put in 12 points and Belle Barbieri added 11 in the Cowgirl effort.
The Cowgirls were forced to foul late in the second half to slow Clay Center’s momentum. Bloom connected on 10 of 19 free throws as the Lady Tigers went to the free throw line 27 times during the game.
Friday night, Clay Center’s athletic department scheduled a wear pink night to honor cancer survivors and the public address announcer thanked both schools and the audience for participating. The announcer also made special tribute of senior Cowgirl Carly Gassman for her struggles and recovery efforts from the terrible disease. Gassman played several minutes in the game for the Cowgirls.
Next action for the Cowgirls will be in the Salina Invitational Tournament Monday, Jan. 14 against Concordia.
The Cowgirls are seeded No.1 in the tournament and will take on the No. 8 seeded Lady Panthers at 6 p.m. in the Salina South High School gym.
Abilene 14 9 12 20 - 55
Clay Center 22 11 12 15 - 60
Abilene: Gassman 3, Geist 13, Guy 4, Crider 12, Barbieri 11, Taylor 8.
Clay Center: Franson 6, Cooper 2, Folks 6, Steppe 14, Bloom 30, Dieckman 2.