CONCORDIA – Trailing by 10 points midway through the third quarter the Abilene Cowgirls erupted for eight unanswered points to draw within two with under two minutes remaining in the period.
Abilene outscored the Lady Panthers 12 to seven in the fourth for a 36-32 road victory.
With Concordia leading 24-14 after an eight to zero run to open the third, junior Abi Lillard, sophomore Jenna Hayes and senior Hannah Snowball popped in buckets for the Cowgirls to close within two at 22-24 at the 1:13 mark. Lillard had two big buckets under the rim while Hayes hit a mid range jumper and Snowball closed out the Cowgirl run with a nice layup in the lane.
Abilene senior point guard Beth Holmes decided the Cowgirls were not going to lose the opening North Central Kansas League contest of the season as she took control of the game in the final eight minutes. After Concordia took a 28-24 lead early in the quarter, Holmes drove the length of the court after grabbing a rebound for a layup to draw the Cowgirls with two. She then hits one of two from the free-throw line and Concordia’s lead was one.
Holmes gave the Cowgirls its first lead of the game since early in the first quarter with a nothing but net three-point shot. Soon after, Lillard grabbed an offensive rebound for a put back bucket to give Abilene a four-point advantage 32-28 with just over four minutes remaining in the game.
“This is a really hard place to play,” Abilene head coach Mike Liby said. “I don’t care who you are or how good of team you got, this is a really tough place to play. I thought this was a character win for us. I thought we had to dig deep being down by 10 at one point and I thought we just dug in and believed in ourselves and our teammates and found a way to win.”
Concordia junior Kendall Reynolds hit two charity tosses to draw within a field goal but Abilene’s Holmes answered right back with her final two pointer of the game to push the Cowgirls up by four at 34-30. Holmes led all scorers with 14 points. She scored eight of her game total in the fourth to lead the Cowgirls for the win.
Hayes hit a pair of free throws to cap the Cowgirls scoring and give them a six-point advantage at 36-30. Reynolds made two foul shots and the Cowgirls called a final time-out with less than 30 seconds showing on the clock. Following the time out, the Cowgirl defense shut down the Lady Panthers for the final ticks off the clock.
Hayes added 11 points to the Cowgirl offense with Lillard having nine to go along with Snowball’s two points. Hayes shot in seven points in the Cowgirls second period that helped Abilene head to halftime down two at 14-16.
The Cowgirls struggled with ball control early in the first quarter turning the ball over multiple times and with tough luck shooting, the Lady Panthers pulled out to an 11-3 lead after the first. Concordia had its issues with ball handling early as well but junior guard Zoe Bechard was able to score eight of her 11 points in the opening frame.
“We told the girls at half, we had good shots,” coach Liby said. “They just didn’t roll our way. We can’t stop shooting and we can’t lose confidence in what we are doing. I thought we settled down in the second half. We learned from the Rock Creek game that when we get sped up a little bit we have to slow ourselves down a little bit and take care of the ball. That loss has come back to help us in this environment.”
Holmes also led the Cowgirls in rebounds with six with Hayes having five and Lillard four. Snowball had three boards and a blocked shot for Abilene off the bench.
Now, Abilene heads to Christmas break with a 3-1 record and will travel to Chapman to open the New Year. It will be the second of four straight conference road games to begin league play.
Concordia falls to 1-4 for the first part of the season.
Contact Ron Preston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abilene 36, Concordia 32
Abilene 3 11 10 12 – 36
Concordia 11 5 9 7 – 32
Abilene (3-1) – Holmes 14, Lillard 9, Hayes 11, Snowball 2. Totals: 12 (2) 6-11 36.
Concordia – Bechard 11, Wilson 2, Reynolds 13, Rundus 6. Totals: 6 (3) 11-20 32.