College of the Ozarks Lady Bobcats women’s basketball team will repeat a familiar practice on Monday morning. They will hop on a bus bound for the NAIA DII WBB National Championship held in Sioux City, Iowa. This will be the Lady Bobcats’ 18th consecutive and 25th overall appearance in the tournament.
The NAIA DII No. 5 ranked Lady Cats are scheduled to play their first-round game on Thursday evening at 8:45 p.m. versus the Coyotes from Kansas Wesleyan University, who received votes in the final coaches’ poll but were not ranked in the Top 25. The Yotes hold a 22-10 record and enter the tournament with an at-large bid after finishing third in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament last week.
The Yotes are led in scoring by senior Kayla Kivinski (13.0 ppg). Additional stat leaders feature: Virja Lewis -7.69 rebounds per game, Gabbie Miller – 3.03 assists and 2.13 steals per game, and Sydney Mortensen - .65 blocks per game. The team has averaged 75.25 points per game this season.
CofO Lady Bobcats enter the championship event with high hopes for success. This season, they captured their third consecutive A.I.I. Conference Championship and posted a 29-3 record, having faced numerous Division I and Top 25 DII competitors. The Lady Cats are ranked in the NAIA DII Top Ten in 14 stat categories, highlighted by No. 1 in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.779), scoring margin (20.32), and three-point field goal percentage (40%).
Senior Cass Johnson leads the team in scoring with 18.97 points per game, and she is joined in double figures by Kelsie Cleeton (13.7) and Abby Oliver (13.1). Cleeton, recently named the A.I.I. Player of the Year, leads the Lady Cats with an average of 11.72 rebounds, 5.63 assists, and 3.02 steals per game. Freshman Michelle Gabani is averaging .43 blocks per game. Johnson is ranked No. 1 in Division II in 3-point field goals made (123) and made per game (3.844). She and Cleeton claim Top 10 rankings in 14 stats between the two. CofO is averaging 83.56 points per game, while holding their opponents to 53.34.
To follow the Lady Bobcats throughout the tournament, fans can go here to obtain information on tickets, live streaming, and additional event highlights.