Stepping up and taking charge, Abilene freshman Belle Barbieri made the game winning play for the Abilene Cowgirls to win their sixth consecutive game over Buhler. Barbieri scored two points on a lay up with a few seconds left to give the Cowgirls a one point lead, and a one point win against the Crusaders, 53-52.
“It was nice at the very end of the game that we got a shot that we wanted,” Abilene girls basketball Coach Janelle Geist said, “we got the ball in and did what we needed to do.”
In the first quarter of the game against the Crusaders, the Cowgirls used the quarter to get a feel of how Buhler played basketball, Geist said. The Cowgirls made over 10 turnovers at the beginning of the game.
“There were a lot of turnovers,” Geist said, “but I thought the first quarter was still okay. We were just trying to feel what kind of team we were up against.”
Geist said before the game that she and the girls knew the Crursaders would put a lot of pressure on the ball and they made turnovers at first when they were “trying to get their footing.” But AHS still came out on top the first quarter, 14-9.
“It was amazing,” Geist said about the third quarter run the Cowgirls had. “We just did what we do. We took care of the ball and everything I told them at halftime they came out and did perfectly.”
The third quarter the Cowgirls only scored eight points. But it was not the intensity that they had on the court that made their third quarter run so important to the Cowgirls win, it was the confidence they brought to the court when they came back after halftime, Geist said.
The Crusaders had gotten into foul trouble quickly into the second third quarter, thus making it extremely important for the Cowgirls to make their free throws, and they did.
“Free throws were key,” Geist said, “they were absolutely key, we just kept our composure and make our shots.”
The Crusaders had seen fouls at the end of the quarter and the Cowgirls had made seven out of the nine free throws they shot that quarter.
The last quarter was also important for the Cowgirls. They had to run the clock and keep their lead. However, with less than two minutes left, Buhler took a one-point lead over the Cowgirls when Taryn Torgerson started a last minute roll and made to give the cowgirls a two-piont. After Torgersons run, Jessica Steffen made a three to bring the Crusaders to a one point lead with a minute left.
The Cowgirls responded to the run by the Crusaders and Barbieri got the ball and scored giving them the lead back to Abilene by one point. The Crusaders were not ready to give up and Alex Keller drove into the lane and scored two for the Crusaders to take the lead with 20 seconds left. However, the Cowgirls were not done. They brought the ball down the court, found Barbieri with five seconds left, and she scored two for a one point win.
“It was amazing,” Geist said. “We got the ball in the hands of Belle and she put up a big one in for us.”
Geist said she felt like this was a good game for the Cowgirls, but was a measuring stick for them as well.
“Buhler is a great program and they have some great players,” Geist said. “It was just out measuring stick to what competition is like outside our league.”
Barbieri, as a freshman, was lead scorer with 22 points for the Cowgirls and Geist said she has truly stepped up as a young player and helped the team move forward and make wins when she feels that the Cowgirls are proving people wrong about preseason predictions.
“It lets people know the Cowgirls are a legitimate team,” Geist said. “I don’t think anyone gave us credit at the beginning of the year, and now we are going into winter break without a loss and six wins.”
The Cowgirls will play again Jan. 4 against Marysville.
“I love working with the girls,” Geist said. “They are so positive and it’s just been real enjoyable.”
Buhler 14 13 8 17— 52
Abilene 9 11 19 14— 53
Buhler: Steffen 13, Dick 6, Keller 7, Bessmer 4, Williams 10, Torgerson 12
Abilene: Geist 7, Guy 2, Sexton 7, Crider 7, Barbieri 22, Taylor 8