Cowboys cruise by Crusaders in sub-state tournament 67-41
By RON PRESTON
On another snowy evening in February, the Abilene Cowboys gave their fans plenty to cheer about as they shot down the Buhler Crusaders 67-41 in the first round of the Class 4A Sub-State tournament in Abilene.
The game was supposed to have been played Monday night, but Mother Nature had different ideas and the first round was postponed to Tuesday.
The victory also gave Abilene head Coach Terry Taylor his 500th career varsity coaching win.
“Winning the 500th doesn’t mean as much tonight as the win over Buhler does. Because, it’s survive and advance,” said coach Taylor following the game.
The No. 3 seeded Cowboys took an early and dominating lead over the outmatched 6th seeded Buhler Crusaders.
Jacob Harms hit an inside bucket off a Matthew Barlow assist to begin the scoring for the Cowboys.
Barlow followed on the next offensive possession by driving the length of the court for a two-point layup and a 4-0 Cowboy lead.
Jesse Patrick grabbed an offensive rebound and put back shot to make the score 6-0, Cowboys.
Buhler finally scored at the 5:27 mark with a two-point jumper from Brandon Keeler and an inside basket by Jace Williams to close the gap 6-4, Cowboys.
That would be as close as the game got for Buhler as Keil Kelly scored on the next two offensive possessions for the Cowboys to make the score 10-4, Cowboys.
Buhler Coach Dennis Wahlgren called a timeout with 3:23 left in the first period. Following the time out, Buhler’s Bransyn Felty hit a trey from just outside the arc to make it a three point game, 10-7.
Andy Wilson followed with a jumper for the Cowboys and Kaynan Anderson added a trey with 35 seconds left in the quarter for a 15-7 Cowboy lead.
The second quarter began with the Cowboys six points from Harms and Wilson with just less than two minutes played to stretch the lead to 19-7.
Harms followed with an inside shot before Buhler could answer with a pair of free throws at the 6:09 mark for 22-7, Cowboy advantage.
Kelly followed with offensive rebound put back bucket and Barlow used a Marcus Gonzales assist to take a 26-9 lead.
Ryan Norguist hit a trey for Buhler and they called another timeout at the 5:12 mark with the score 26-12, Cowboys.
The Cowboys maintained their scoring and rebounding intensity during the remainder of the first half to lead at intermission 38-19.
The second half saw the Cowboys lose a little of their intensity they had in the first half and exchange buckets and turnovers with the Crusaders, especially in the third quarter.
“First half, I thought we played very well, good intensity, ran the floor pretty well, got inside shots and had pretty good balance as far as inside and outside shooting went. We made a couple of threes and got the ball inside a chunk in the first half,” coach Taylor said.
Patrick started the scoring for the Cowboys with an inside shot off a Barlow assist with almost two minutes gone in the period.
Harms and Kelly followed two quick baskets before Buhler would answer with a trey from Norquist and inside shot from Brandon Keeler to trim the lead to 20, 44-24, Cowboys.
Coach Taylor called a timeout at the 4:37 after Patrick was fouled by Keeler.
Patrick hit a free throw and Tanner Hoekman followed with a trey for the Cowboys.
Senior Trevor Witt, returning to playing time following an injury, hit the first of his three field goals of the game to end the Cowboy scoring in the third quarter.
The Cowboys took a 50-30 lead into the final eight minutes of the game.
Wilson began the Cowboy scoring with a court length drive that ended in a goal tending call on his layup at the 6:59 mark.
Harms followed with a traditional three-point play with a put back basket and free throw to make the score 55-33, Abilene.
Barlow hit a corner trey before coach Taylor called a Cowboy time out with 3:49 to play and the score 58-39. After this timeout, the Cowboys outscored the Crusaders 9-2 for the remainder of the game.
Witt got an alley oop pass from Kelly for an exciting bucket, Hoekman had a steal and a layup followed by Anderson’s fast break layup from a Gonzales pass and another Witt bucket to end the scoring for the Cowboys.
“The second half was a little disappointing to me, we just kept trading baskets with them all the way through the third and part of the fourth; we just kept trading baskets,” said Taylor.
“Our intensity wasn’t as good, I know they are high school kids, but when you get somebody down, you got to put the foot on the pedal and keep it going. We talked about that after the game and we’ll have to do that Thursday against McPherson. We are going to have to play lights out for four quarters.”
“Every possession will be huge, whether its offense or defense,” added Taylor.
“Mentally, we came off a loss at Chapman and had a good response and played pretty well in the first half. I’m glad we won, I’m obviously not pleased with the play in the second half, but we know what is ahead for us on Thursday,” concluded coach Taylor.
Abilene will host the number two seed McPherson Bullpups (17-2) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night in the semi-finals of the sub-state tournament.
Abilene 67, Buhler 41
Buhler (5-15) 7 12 11 11 - 41
Abilene (17-4) 15 23 12 17 - 67
Buhler: Felty 8, Webster 1, Henricks 6, Norquist 11, Keeler 6, Williams 5, Davis 4.
Abilene: Barlow 10, Wilson 11, Anderson 6, Hoekman 7, Kelly 8, Patrick 5, Harms 14, Witt 6.