By RON PRESTON
Hesston, the No. 3 ranked girls basketball team in Kansas Class 4A in the state, wasted little time in showing everyone why they are ranked where they are as they quickly got off to fast start and brought an end to the season of the Abilene Cowgirls, 54-31, in the sub-state semi-final game Friday night in the Abilene gym.
The Lady Swathers scored early and often against the Cowgirls in the first half.
“They have a great half court offensive team and had a ton of second chance shots tonight,” said Cowgirl Coach Janelle Geist.
Hesston led 10 to 4 after the first quarter and 27-5 at half time.
Another sister act duo, similar to the Page sisters of Wamego, the Richardson sisters Cami and Caylee led the Swathers with 15 and 11 points respectively.
These two student athletes are both young as Cami is a freshman and Caylee is just a sophomore, so Hesston should be a talented team to be reckoned with in class 4A during the coming years as well.
The Cowgirls got on the scoreboard with a two - point jumper from senior Kiley Crider at the 3:00 minute mark in the first quarter.
Freshman Belle Barbieri added an inside shot with 2:21 remaining on the clock to make the score 7-4, Hesston.
Hesston senior guard Ashley Weaver scored three of her game high 15 points with a trey to end the first quarter and a 10-4 Hesston lead.
The very athletic and pressing defense of the Swathers limited the Cowgirls to a single free throw by Barbieri in the second period, while their offense led by Caylee Richardson scored 17 to lead at half 27-5.
The second half saw the Cowgirls come charging back led by their seniors Kurstin Guy, Gracie Sexton, Crider and Carly Gassman to outscore the Swathers 27-26 in the final two periods.
Guy scored six points in the third period including going 4-4 at the free throw line.
Sexton hit a pair of treys in the second half and Crider who led the team in scoring with 7 points, put in a trey and a jump shot in the final period.
Although Gassman was held scoreless by the Swather’s defense, she was very active with several assists and rebounds and was hustling the entire game.
“It was a tough night for our seniors to end the season with a loss,” said coach Geist.
“We had a successful season, a winning record and looking back at our season right now, 10 of our games were against ranked or currently ranked teams in either 4A or 5A,” added coach Geist.
“Some people outside the program didn’t have very high expectations for this team, but we never gave up, didn’t quit and I believe as a coach had a very good season,” Geist said.
Hesston moves on to the championship game against the No. 4 ranked team in class 4A, the McPherson Bullpups, Saturday night at 6 pm.
“This was a tough sub-state. There are several quality teams here and teams that have exceptional players that won’t get to go to the state tournament next week, because only the champion of each sub-state advances to state. One of the two teams from Saturday’s game will end their season,” concluded coach Geist.
Hesston 54, Abilene 31
Abilene (12-10) 4 1 11 15-31
Hesston (20-2) 10 17 16 11-54
Abilene: Geist 1, Guy 6, Sexton 6, Crider 7, Barbieri 5, Thompson 2, Taylor 4.
Hesston: Caylee Richardson 11, Weaver 15, Voth 6, Cami Richardson 15, Unruh 7.