College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcats enter the 2018-19 season ranked #6 in the NAIA DII Women’s Basketball Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll, which was released Tuesday afternoon.
The Lady Bobcats had a phenomenal 2017-18 season, where they posted a 31-2 record and were ranked in the nation’s Top Ten at the NAIA DII level in numerous categories related to assist/turnover ratio, rebounding, three-point field goals, scoring offense, scoring margin, free throws, and assists.
This season the Lady Cats return two key components of last year’s exciting squad—senior All-Americans Kelsie Cleeton and Cass Johnson. Cleeton, an exceptionally versatile, high-energy guard, ranked in the NAIA DII Top Ten in seven different categories related to rebounding, steals, and assist-to-turnover ratio. Johnson twice posted her own numbers in the Top Ten thanks to her excellent 3-point field goal shooting.
Head Coach Becky (Vest) Mullis also returns senior guard Madi Brethower--a tough competitor who can hold her own under the basket. Junior guards Ashley Forrest and Aleksei Smith will provide depth and experience, and all three have the ability to make a positive impact for the Lady Cats when they are on the floor.
Following a successful freshman season, where they all received playing time, sophomores Kyra Hardesty, Abby Oliver, and Grace Steiger all return with improved games and a wealth of knowledge gained through first-year collegiate experience.
Mullis has recruited another great class of freshmen, whom she has found in the preseason to be “hard working and coachable.” The group features Michelle Gabani (Bolivar, Mo.), Annie Noah (Gainesville, Mo.), Hannah Pfeifer (Mountain Home, Ark.), and Clare Shetley (Sullivan, Mo.).
The Lady Bobcats are poised for success, possessing many talents and strengths. They will take one game at a time, using their talent to the utmost ability, with the hope of achieving their goal of returning to the NAIA DII Women’s Basketball National Championships and playing their way through to the championship game.
The Lady Bobcats open up their regular-season schedule at home on Monday, October 29th, facing No. 20 ranked Tabor College (Kan.) at 5:30 p.m. in the Keeter Gymnasium.