CONCORDIA – Opening the season at 1-2 and not really playing well in their two back-to-back losses, the Abilene Cowboys put everything in its proper place and totally ran away from North Central Kansas League foe Concordia 74-37 Friday night at Concordia.
The Cowboys had a week off since it last played against a talented Augusta team to prepare for the opening of the conference season at the Jungle, home of the Panthers. It didn’t take the Cowboys long after controlling the opening tip to score as sophomore Kaleb Becker hit the first of his two first quarter treys to jump-start the Abilene offense. Senior Travis Beetch stretched the Cowboy lead to 6-0 with a bucket and one of two from the free-throw line and Abilene led 6-0 with just over two minutes off the clock in the opening period.
Abilene kept the pressure on the Panthers as they galloped to a 25-11 lead to end the first. Six different Cowboys scored in the period with junior Avery Bryson powering his way to the basket three times to get six of his game high 17 points. Bryson went on to lead the Cowboys with a strong first half offensive show by adding an additional seven points in the second period including a trey. Junior guard Blaise McVan swished three triples as the Cowboys ran away for a 45 – 21 halftime lead.
“We were dialed in a little bit tonight,” Abilene head coach Terry Taylor said. “I think the game with Augusta was a rude awakening that we are not as good as we thought we were. We had a pretty good practice. It wasn’t great, but we did some things well in practice.”
The Cowboys completely dominated the Panthers offensively from the first quarter and held them to four points in the final running clock fourth period.
“We felt like tonight we should be a little more athletic than they were and if we could just push the action,” Taylor said. “And I thought our triangle and two kind of set the tome for the evening. We played the whole first quarter with a triangle and two and then went to a zone in the second quarter and added some man. We played a two-three zone in the third and that was pretty effective too. That was new for us.
“We have to have some of those different defenses in our arsenal as we go along as we are going to play against some good teams. Was glad we got the opportunity to run those things.
“We had some kids really step up tonight,” Taylor added. “Avery Bryson and Josh Stuber really took the ball to the hole. Blaise (McVan) got a couple threes down for us from the perimeter. I think the kids all feel good about themselves. I know going into break it would not have been good to limp out of here with a close victory. We wanted to dominate and I think we did.”
Junior guard Josh Stuber had his best game of the season as he scored four points in the first half as he drove the bucket against the Panthers. Junior post Grant Heintz used his 6-8 height to be a factor for the Cowboys on the boards against Concordia.
“We have got to continue to play through Grant more,” Taylor said. “It’s the only way he’ll continue to get better. I think tonight at times he showed some improvement.”
Cowboy coach Terry Taylor was able to play all 12 players that suited for the varsity game and he got points from 11. Bryson led all scorers with a career high 17 points with Becker putting in 12 while Beetch and McVan had nine points each. Stuber finished with eight points and senior Matt Davis and Heintz had six points each. Sophomore guard Cooper Wildey got his first varsity points of the season with a trey in the Cowboys 11 point fourth quarter. Senior guard Jayshaun Jones had a third quarter bucket for Abilene and junior post Kieryan Anderson had a first quarter driving lay in to complete the Cowboy scoring.
“For the most part, this is our best ball game of the year thus far,” Taylor said. “I think this is a good feeling of confidence as we go into break and then come back with Chapman after the break. Look forward to going over there and playing over there.”
Concordia senior Jacob Rosenbaum was the only Panther to score in double figures as he led his team with 11 points.
The Cowboys now at 2-2 are off for the Christmas break and will return to action after the New Year as they head to Chapman (2-3) on Jan. 7. It will be the second of four consecutive NCKL road games as they will play at Marysville (5-1) and Wamego (3-2) before coming home to face Clay Center (0-5) before heading to the Salina Invitational Tournament.
“We told our kids, we can’t do anything about our schedule,” Taylor added. “We can’t change it. Just go out there and win those four and put the pressure on everybody else. It’s going to be tough to do but we’ll give it a good shot.”
Contact Ron Preston at email@example.com.
Abilene 25 20 18 11 – 74
Concordia 11 10 12 4 – 37
Abilene (2-2) – Jones 2, Stuber 8, McVan 9, Bryson 17, Beetch 9, Wildey 3, Becker 12, Davis 6, Heintz 6, Anderson 2. Totals: 21 (7) 11-18 74.
Concordia (1-4) – Vignery 5, Trost 4, Carlgren 6, Williams 3, Rosenbaum 11, Hobrock 3, Chas Carlgren 5. Totals: 8 (5) 6-12 37.