The College of the Ozarks Bobcats are eager to open up their 2016-17 season, albeit on the road, this weekend. The Cats will head to the Oklahoma Wesleyan University Classic in Bartlesville, where they will face Southwestern Assemblies of God on Friday at 4 PM and Oklahoma Wesleyan on Saturday at 8 PM.
SAGU went 20-13 on the season last year, with a 10-8 record in the Sooner Athletic Conference. Oklahoma Wesleyan, who joined the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference last season, posted a 14-16 record overall and were 9-11 in KCAC play.
The Bobcats closed out 2015-16 with a 20-9 season record, ranking #15 in NAIA DII in assists per game (16.5) and 3-point field goal percentage (38%).
As they head into the season, the Cats will certainly miss last year’s seniors—Ethan Murray, Skyler Frazier, and Joe Young—who provided 39.1 of the Bobcats’ 79.8 points per game, including 121 three-pointers and 533 rebounds. However, Coach Shepherd looks forward to seeing this year’s senior trio, point guard Cameron Paschke, center Kiefer Starbird, and guard Chandler Hall, step up to lead the team both on and off the court. The trio contributed 26.4 points per game last season along with 57 steals, 69 blocked shots, 274 rebounds, and 71 treys. The Cats also have a strong group of returners, featuring guards Heath Carmichael and Canyon Smith, as well as Ethan Davidson, Luke Daniels, and Ryan Burland at forward. In addition, Shepherd has added three new recruits to his squad, all of which are expected to contribute early on—guards Kyle Cavanaugh, Brandt Cochran, and DeMon Hyler. All-State recipients from successful high school programs, Cavanaugh hails from Fair Grove, Mo. and Cochran from Lawrenceville, Ill. Hyler comes to the Cats from Belton High School in Kansas City, Mo., where he was captain of his team and an All-Conference honoree.
Along with a steady diet of preseason workouts and practice, the Bobcats have warmed up for the season with a couple of scrimmages with Drury and Evangel, as well as an exhibition game with Kanakuk’s Link Year team.
The Bobcats will host Tabor College for their first home game of the season on Friday, November 4, 7:30 p.m., in the Keeter Athletic Complex on the College of the Ozarks campus. The Lady Cats will also play Tabor on the 4th at 5:30 p.m. Come out and cheer them on.
Pictured: The Bobcats scrimmaging against Drury