Tuesday night the Cowboys did just that with an 85-55 win over Chapman.
The last time the Cowboys won back-to-back undefeated league titles was 24 years ago. Tuesday night they repeated the two undefeated NCKL seasons.
The first was the 1986-1987 and 1987-1988 seasons under coach Scott Stein.
Abilene coach Terry Taylor said the Cowboys in the mid 1980s finished 22-0 in NCKL play. His current team is 21-0 in the league, having won the last game of the regular three seasons ago.
Up next is the Class 4A sub-state hosted by Holton. The Cowboys will play Atchison at 6 p.m. next Tuesday, Feb. 28.
“We have talked to them,” he said of Atchison. “They have such a distance to travel that they want to play an hour early.”
Chapman is also expected to have a home game, hosting Wamego the same day at 7 p.m.
Ironically, the winner of the two games will play at Holton in the semifinals, thus the two Dickinson County rivals could play for a fourth time. They met in the Dickinson County Classic early in the season as well as two times in league play.
“We feel good right now,” Taylor said. “We are 19-1 and are seeded No. 1. We have as good a chance as anybody to win it. Obviously, we have to win three games just like anyone else. I like our chances.
“Our kids played hard,” he said of the recent contest. “We kept running in fresh bodies and they got tired. We just wore them out as the game went on.
“We played pretty well tonight,” he added. “We got some big minutes out of Cody Lang, a senior that started tonight. Andy Wilson played well. Adrian Polk played well. Matt Barlow got on track a little bit. There were a lot of positive things there. Keil (Kelly) started the last three games and he has become more comfortable in that position.”
Chapman started the game on fire, making 7-for-8 to start the quarter. Most of those were driving the lane. When Jordan Bauman made a three-point shot with 4:50 left in the quarter, Chapman led 11-10.
“We have to be a little more patience on the offensive end,” Chapman coach Tony Ingram said. “We don’t shoot a good enough percentage to come down and take shots. Early in the game we had some good transitions, attacking the rim. Abilene didn’t come out as strong as they usually do. So we attacked the rim and shot the ball well. But with any game you start to get fatigued a little bit and those percentages go down.
“We also have to play better defense than what we did tonight,” he said.
“We wanted to go inside,” Taylor said. “And then we had Andy knocking in some threes. That makes us pretty tough to guard.”
The 85 points is the most the Cowboys have scored this year. They scored 82 against Augusta.
When Chapman’s Kyle Anderson got into foul trouble in the first half, the Cowboys took advantage of the lack of size.
“They really utilized that with us only having (Zach) Heiman in there,” Ingram said. “The undersize really hurt us there, mid second quarter. It’s a 10 point game with five to go in the second quarter. If we could have held it there, it could have been a different outcome.”
“We have room for improvement yet,” Taylor said. “We know that. Hopefully, we’ll have one week of practice, maybe two, where we can work on some little things. We didn’t do as well defensively as I wanted to but offensively we shot the ball pretty well.”
Abilene ended the first quarter with a three-point basket by Barlow and two free throws by Polk and Abilene led 23-15. Making 6-of-6 from the free-throw line helped Abilene in the second quarter and the Cowboys led 42-26 at halftime.
Seven third-quarter turnovers hampered the Irish offense and the lead was at 29, 51-35. when Lang made a free throw with 1:24 left in the quarter.
But Chapman’s Logan Lehmkuhl hit a three-point shot followed by a two and a three by Trey Schultz.
Against Wamego, Chapman had a chance to win the game in regulation at home but won the game in overtime by one point. At Wamego early in the season, Bauman made two free-throws to send it into overtime and the Irish won by two.
“We’ll definitely have a good game,” Ingram said. “Coach (Troy) Hemphill is a very good coach. We’re starting tomorrow preparing the boys for the game.”
Abilene’s Wilson led all scorers with 22 points. Polk added 18 and Lang scored 14. The Cowboys also went 21-for-31 from the free-throw line.
Trey Schultz led Chapman with 15 points, Bauman scored 13 and Trent Langvardt added 11.
Abilene 84, Chapman 55
Chapman 15 11 14 15—55
Abilene 23 19 21 21—84
Chapman (2s, 3s, Fta-Ftm, Pts): Trey Schultz 5 1 3-2 15, Logan Lehmkuhl 0 1 0-0 3, Jordan Bauman 3 2 3-1 13, Jesus Martin 1 0 0-0 2, Trent Langvardt 4 0 5-2 11, Zach Heiman 2 0 2-1 5, Wyatt Hoffman 2 0 2-0 4, Kyle Anderson 1 0 0-0 2. Totals 18 4 15-7 55.
Abilene: Matthew Barlow 1 2 0-0 8, Andy Wilson 7 0 8-8 22, Collin Sexton 1 0 0-0 2, Keil Kelly 0 0 4-3 2, Adrian Polk 7 0 6-4 18, Jesse Patrick 0 1 2-2 5, Marcus Gonzales 0 0 2-1 1, Jesse Goodwin 1 0 0-0 2, Jacob Harms 2 0 3-2 6, Trevor Witt 2 0 1-0 4, Cody Lang 6 0 5-2 14. Totals 27 3 31-21 84.