Madi Brethower & Shelby Roberts
Madison Wells & Coach Becky Vest
Kelsie Cleeton & Cass Johnson
College of the Ozarks Lady Cat Basketball closed out their 2017-2018 season late last week with a 31-2 record, but the accolades continue to roll in for several team members and their coach.
Lady Cats Shelby Roberts, Madison Wells, and Madi Brethower were named this week as three of 278 student athletes to receive the 2018 Daktronics NAIA DII Women’s Basketball Scholar Athlete Award. In order to be nominated, a student-athlete must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale and must have achieved junior academic status. It is no small accomplishment to be named as an NAIA Scholar Athlete, particularly at College of the Ozarks. These particular Lady Cats excel at balancing the rigors of their studies with the multiple obligations of their sports (practice, travel, and game performance), while also performing to the best of their abilities in a 15-hour per week on-campus work assignment.
Receiving national recognition this week for their performance on the court are junior guards Kelsie Cleeton and Cass Johnson, who were named to the NCCAA DI Women’s Basketball All-Region five-person team, along with their head coach, Becky Vest, who received honors for the second consecutive year as NCCAA DI Women’s Basketball Central Region Coach of the Year.
Cleeton headed into nationals ranked NAIA DII No. 4 in total steals (104) and steals per game (3.35); No. 5 in offensive rebounds per game (4.323), total rebounds per game (11.29), and total rebounds (350); and No. 9 in defensive rebounds per game (6.97). Cleeton’s season was highlighted by scoring her 1,000th career point in February and gathering 21 double-double performances in 33 games played, while leading her team in rebounds, steals, and assists. She was twice named A.I.I. Player of the Week, received NCCAA Student Athlete of the Week honors, and was the A.I.I. Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, First Team All-Conference, as well as the A.I.I. Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Johnson led the Lady Cats in scoring for the season, averaging over 16 points per game. Her season highlights featured scoring her 1,000th career point in December and surpassing the mark of 100-made three-pointers in her final game of the postseason. Johnson was named A.I.I. Player of the Week on two occasions and was recognized by the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame with a special achievement award for her NCCAA 2017 First-Team All-American accomplishment. Johnson entered national tournament play ranked NAIA DII No. 9 in total three-point field goals made with 96 and No. 10 in three-point field goals made per game (3.09).
Becky Vest is completing her fifth season at the helm of the Lady Cats, following eleven years as the assistant coach. Vest has compiled an impressive 138-31 record, taking her team to the NAIA DII National Championship each year of her tenure. In addition to her NCCAA Regional Coach of the Year honor, Vest has been named A.I.I. Coach of the Year in 2016 and 2018.