By RON PRESTON
With a comfortable 10-point lead at the intermission, 32-22, it looked like the Abilene Cowboys were going to cruise to their 12th victory and 5th in the North Central Kansas League.
But Wamego had different plans for Coach Terry Taylor’s Cowboys by forcing the game into two overtime periods, with the Cowboys eventually winning the game, 77-65.
The Red Raiders came out of half time and shot two quick 3-point shots to narrow the lead to 4 points with not even a minute off the clock.
“The first minute of the second half when Wamego drained the two 3’s, took a 10-point lead to a 4-point lead, I thought that was the key point of the game,” coach Taylor said following the game.
“We took a time out, but the damage had already been done and their kids gained momentum in that third period,” he added.
Cowboy seniors Andy Wilson and Jacob Harms led the way for the Cowboys in the first half with 8 points and 14 points respectively.
Wamego’s Matt Webb and Brady Hemphill each hit a trey to trim the Cowboy margin at the beginning of the third quarter.
Wamego applied defensive pressure and rebounding with untimely turnovers by the Cowboys tied the game at 44 with a layup by Dakota Turner at the buzzer.
The Red Raiders outscored Abilene 22-12 in the third period and both teams traded baskets throughout the fourth quarter to end regulation tied, 55-55.
In the first overtime, Wamego took a 61-59 lead with 1:31 remaining in the game.
Abilene’s Matthew Barlow scored a layup with an assist by Wilson to tie the game at 61 with 25.4 seconds remaining.
Wamego called a quick time out but failed to score, thus sending the game into the second overtime period.
“Our defense made just enough stops in the first overtime to get us to the second overtime,” coach Taylor commented.
Abilene got the tip off in the second overtime and quickly started pulling away from the Raiders with a Jesse Patrick offensive rebound and put back basket of Harms’ second free throw attempt to lead 64-61.
Wamego had to foul to get the Cowboys to the line to eliminating the possibility of outside shots or inside baskets by Harms as well as clock usage by the Cowboys.
Abilene outscored Wamego 22-10 in the two overtimes for the 12-point margin of victory, with 15 points coming from the free throw line.
Wilson led all scorers with 26 points while Harms put in 25 for the Cowboys.
“Andy Wilson played much better tonight; shot the ball well and penetrated the lane for some shots. Jacob was solid again inside tonight,” coach Taylor said.
“We knew we had to win tonight or our chances of winning the league were pretty slim,” Taylor added.
“We are happy, it was a great team victory,” Taylor concluded.
Abilene, the 6th ranked team in 4A by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association, handed Wamego their first NCKL loss. The Cowboys will go to 5-1 atop the league while Wamego will go to 4-1.
Next up for the Cowboys will be a NCKL match up at Marysville on Friday.
Abilene 77, Wamego 65 (2-OT)
Wamego: 16 6 22 1110–65
Abilene: 16 16 12 11 22 - 77
Wamego: York 4, Alderson 5, Helus 5, Webb 9, Hemphill 5, Turner 14, Poe 12, Page 2, Wethington 9.
Abilene: Barlow 9, Wilson 26, Kelly 8, Patrick 9, Harms 25