2020 Lady Bobcat Season Preview
The Lady Cats are coming off a solid 2019-20 campaign where they posted an overall record of 29-4, which included an A.I.I. Conference Championship and a top five ranking heading into the NAIA DII National Basketball Championship. Despite the loss of Ashley Forrest and Aleksei Smith to graduation the Lady Cats look to continue their legacy as one of the top programs in the country.
Becky Mullis, in her eighth season as the Lady Cats’ head coach, has reloaded the Lady Cat roster and looks for another title contending team in 2020-21.
With a good mix of youth and experience this season, the Lady Cats return two key senior leaders in Abby Oliver and Grace Steiger. Oliver (Strafford, MO) garnered All-American honors in 2019-2020 with her stellar three-point shooting (91-3pt.fgm - 41.2%) and her team leading 14.7 ppg. Her tenacity and ability to score from long range or off the dribble will be a propelling force for the Lady Cats this season. Steiger (Cuba, MO) continues to be an inside presence for the Lady Cats. Playing in all 33 games a year ago, Steiger looks to give the Lady Cats a balance of solid post play to compliment the strong backcourt. Her accuracy in the paint (46% FG), her shot blocking ability (26 blocks), and her rebounding strength make her a triple threat for the Lady Cats.
The junior class features Kyra Hardesty, Michelle Gabani, Annie Noah, and Jordan Wersinger, each of whom had significant contributions a year ago. Hardesty, (Washington, Mo.) a true point guard, guided the Lady Cat offense and started 32 games in 2019-2020. She is a solid leader on the court who brings an ability to score from long range and distribute the ball to her teammates. Gabani (Bolivar, Mo.) provides consistency to the Lady Cat line-up as she contributes in multiple ways. Averaging 4.7 points and 3.5 rebound per game along with 9 blocked shots, Gabani adds depth on both ends of the court. Noah (Gainesville, Mo.), who started in every game last season received NAIA DII Honorable Mention All-American recognition. Her 9.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game presented a strong inside challenge for Lady Cat opponents. With a soft touch around the basket and high basketball IQ, Noah will once again be counted on as a presence in the paint. Jordan Wersinger (Springfield, Mo.-Kickapoo HS) made an immediate impact after transferring from University of Central Missouri a year ago. Scoring 5.3 points and 2.8 rebounds per game along with her 26 steals, made her a valuable contributor on both ends of the court.
The Lady Cats return one sophomore form the 2019-2020 campaign. Kayley Frank (Strafford, MO) is a strong, physical presence, who can score in a variety of ways. She plays multiple offensive and defensive positions and can handle a variety of match-up assignments. Playing in all 33 games as a freshman, her 5.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game added valuable depth to the Lady Cat line-up. With a solid year of experience behind her, Frank looks to increase her contributions in 2020-21.
The Lady Cats welcome four freshmen to the 2020-21 squad, all of whom made solid contributors to their high school program. They are expected to have a positive impact on the Lady Cats’ success. Madi Braden is a 5’6 guard from Ozark. An all-around solid player, Braden brings another true point guard to the lineup. Along with her ball handling, passing, and shooting skills, her tenacious defense will be an asset for the Lady Cats. Katie Mayes (Ozark, MO) is a tough player inside who plays bigger than her 5’10 frame. Smart and competitive she has great passing ability from the post. Stevi Jones is a 5’6 guard coming off a tremendous career at Chadwick, MO. Adding another outside scoring threat for the Lady Cats, Stevi will be looking to add solid depth to the backcourt. Haley Comegys rounds out the freshman class. From Pleasant Hill, Mo., Comegys a 5’9 guard, brings added size at the guard position .The energy she brings to the court will be a key contribution as she gets acclimated to the college game.
As to strengths, Coach Mullis says, “I’m excited about the leadership our upperclassmen will provide for this talented group of newcomers. They know what it takes to compete at a high level and continue the tradition that we have established for Lady Cat Basketball. Year in and year out we plan to compete for a national title and this group is excited to continue that mission in 2020-21.”
The balance of youth and experience on this year’s team will create a great learning and growing atmosphere where every player will be looked to for valuable contributions. As the tradition of Lady Cat excellence continues, look for great things to come from this group in 2020-2021.