Cowgirls edge Panthers

ABILENE — Round three, by a narrow decision, went to the Abilene Cowgirls.
Fighting back from 14 points down in the first half, the Cowgirls got a 15-foot jumper by Courtney Geist  with 11 seconds to play to edge Concordia 47-45 in the third meeting of the season between the two teams Friday night.
Abilene had won the first regular season game between the North Central Kansas League rivals, and then clipped the Panthers 56-50 in the Salina Invitational Tournament.
Concordia led by 14 points late in the first half, and still had a 40-35 cushion heading into the fourth quarter.
An 8-1 run to start the final period gave Abilene a 43-41 advantage.
The Panthers tied the game on a basket by Nikki Blankenbeckley with 1:50 to play.
Kiley Crider made one of two free throws with 1:04 remaining, and Abilene led 44-43.
Following a Concordia turnover, Crider was fouled again, and went one of two from the line.
Two free throws by Megan James with 33 seconds on the clock pulled Concordia even at 45-45.
Geist connected on the jumper 22 seconds later, and the Cowgirls led 47-45.
“We let Geist get in there and drive a little bit, and we wanted to keep them out on the perimeter. She stepped up and knocked it down,” Concordia coach Michael Wahlmeier said.
Tristen Leiszler was fouled with 2.9 seconds to play, and went to the free throw line with a chance to tie.
Leiszler missed the first free throw, and attempted to miss the second on purpose.
“We want her (Leiszler) there anytime that situation comes up,” Wahlmeier said.
Abilene turned the ball over on the inbounds pass, but with just .00.1 on the clock, Concordia was unable to get a shot off.
“It is good for us to learn that it is not over until it is over,” Wahlmeier said.
Concordia falls to 2-11 overall and 1-6 in League play with the loss.
Abilene is now 9-4 overall and 4-2 in the League.
The Panthers jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the game, and would not trail until the fourth quarter.
Trailing 11-7, the Cowgirls got a baseline jumper by Taylor Thompson early in the second quarter to close the gap to 11-9.
A follow by Maggie Lambert, two free throws by James and a three-point basket by Leiszler put Concordia on top 18-9.
It was a 22-14 game when the Panthers got a three-point play by James and another three by Leiszler to open up a 28-14 advantage.
“We were getting them in foul trouble. We were eight of nine the first half shooting free throws. We are getting better at those things, taking advantage of other teams’ mistakes,” Wahlmeier said.
Crider got a steal and a layup for Abilene, but Blankenbeckley answered with a jumper to make it 30-16.
Abilene started its comeback when Geist buried a three with time running out in the first half to pull Abilene within 11 points, 30-19.
Leiszler scored the first two points of the second half, and Concordia led 32-19.
Geist hit two threes during a 12-2 Abilene spurt that made it 34-31.
A basket by James and a steal and layup by Blankenbeckley put the Panthers up 38-31.
Blankenbeckley had 10 steals in the game, and scored eight points.
Concordia led 40-35 heading into the final eight minutes, but managed just a free throw by Leiszler in the first 6:10.
Abilene pumped in eight points during that stretch, and took its first lead, 43-41, on a basket by Crider with 3:00 to play.
Blankenbeckley was able to tie the game, but the Panthers were unable to recapture the lead.
“We played hard, but we definitely played better in the first half than we did in the second half,” Wahlmeier said, “We didn’t match their intensity in the second half, and they made their shots and we didn’t make ours.”
James scored 17 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the Panthers. She was seven of seven from the free throw line.
Leiszler finished with nine points.
Molly Adams added six points and six rebounds.
Crider led the way for Abilene with 21 points.
Geist scored 15 for the Cowgirls.
Concordia hosts Pike Valley on Tuesday night.

CONCORDIA (45)
K. Lambert 0-0-4 0, M. Lambert 2-1-4 5, Adams 2-2-4 6, Blankenbeckley 4-0-2 8, Boley 0-0-2 0, Leiszler 3-1-1 9, James 5-7-3 17. Totals: 16-11-20 45.
ABILENE (47)
Geist 4-4-1 15, Gassman 0-0-4 0, Olberding 1-0-3 2, Sexton 0-0-3 0, Crider 7-6-1 21, Anderes 0-0-1 0, Thompson 1-0-0 2, Taylor 1-3-4 5. Totals: 15-13-18 47.

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