By RON PRESTON
It was senior night and the Cowboys would start five senior players against the Clay Center Tigers on Thursday.
The Cowboys carried their intensity from their victory over Hays on Tuesday into Thursday’s game against the Tigers.
Abilene won decisively 60-35 in this North Central Kansas League Contest making their league record 7-2.
“Our intensity was very good in the first half. Our seniors started and they gave a good effort. It’s been our tradition here for the last six years to start seniors on senior night, and they played hard, played really well,” said Cowboy Coach Terry Taylor following the game.
“Kaynan Anderson and Marcus Gonzales got to play extended minutes. All five seniors played really well,” Taylor said.
Jacob Harms opened the game with an inside bucket off an assist from Matthew Barlow.
Gonzales followed with a jumper from the top of the key and Barlow would get an assist from Andy Wilson to get the Cowboys to a quick 6-0 lead.
Harms would follow with an offensive rebound put back bucket for an 8-0 lead and Anderson had a great play reverse layup off a Wilson assist before Clay Center called time out with the Cowboys leading 10-0.
Caleb Carson hit a trey from the corner following the time out for the only points of the first period for the Tigers.
Wilson hit two treys, Harms had another offensive rebound put back basket, Tanner Hoekman added a free throw and Barlow drained a trey at the buzzer to give the Cowboys a commanding 22-3 lead after one.
The second quarter saw the same intensity from the Cowboys.
They outscored the Tigers 24-12 to take a dominating half time lead 46-15.
Jesse Patrick had an offensive rebound put back bucket, followed by a Wilson jumper and a Harms inside shot to give the Cowboys a 28-6 lead with 4:44 left to play.
Anderson hit a trey from just outside the arc, followed by another Wilson trey to give the Cowboys the lead 34-9 with 2:57 left in the half.
Harms had another inside shot followed by a Hoekman layup and a Barlow layup from a Wilson assist to lead 40-13.
Anderson hit a trey from the left corner and Wilson added a traditional three point play with a layup and a free throw with 2.1 seconds left to play.
The Cowboys took a dominating lead 46-15 into half time.
“At half time, when you are up by 30, it’s a little hard to come in and feel threatened. We kind of relaxed a little bit, but we got a chance to work on a couple of things in the second half, running a couple of different defensive looks, just something different for us to work on,” commented coach Taylor.
The second half actually saw the Cowboys out scored by the Tigers 20-14 in the game clock shortened contest.
“Offensively we had a couple of missed shots and some fouls. It’s hard to play with the same intensity for the entire game when you have that large of a lead,” Taylor said.
“It’s a good win for us, anytime you beat Clay Center; it’s a good win,”
Next up for the Cowboys is their last regular season game against the Fighting Irish at Chapman.
“Tuesday at Chapman, we hope to come out and do the same thing, establish ourselves early. We should have Keil Kelly and maybe Trevor Witt back for that game and that will give us some more depth.” Coach Taylor added.
“This is certainly the exciting time of the year. You know if you don’t play well, you are probably done. So our kids are excited about next Tuesday and the regionals, which we host.”
“Playing at home, where we have won 20 plus straight games, it’s a big advantage for us.
“The kids have confidence that they get to play at home and they’re playing well right now, the Hays game gave them confidence and they are looking forward to play McPherson or whoever they draw in the Regionals,” concluded Taylor.
Abilene 60, Clay Center 35
Clay Center (3-16) 3 12 13 7 - 35
Abilene (16-3) 22 24 10 4 – 60