The Bobcats began their postseason play against a familiar opponent in Crowley’s Ridge College. After falling to them earlier in the season, 72-82, the Bobcats made sure that they would not be denied the victory when it mattered the most.
Crowley’s Ridge found the bottom of the basket first with a Kyle Moore fadeaway jumper. The Bobcats would soon find the scoreboard after a dime from Treydon Rackley found Ayden Stone diving to the basket for two. The first half consisted of back and forth baskets between the Bobcats and the Pioneers, but Treydon Rackley gave the Bobcats a three-point lead with 13:45 left in the first half. Ayden Stone continued scoring the ball well in the paint and the needed attention on him down low. The focus on Stone allowed Andrew Mitchell to come open for a three which gave the Cats a 17-9 lead with 12 minutes remaining in the first half. A Rackley three found the bottom of the net which forced the Pioneers to take a timeout with 11:36 on the clock and an 11-point lead for the Bobcats. The story of the remainder of the first half was back and forth baskets. Neither team could gain more ground for themselves while the Bobcats scored another additional 4 points to give themselves a 38-23 lead going into the second half.
The Pioneers came out quick to start the second half and went on a 5-0 run that was shut down just as quick as it was started with a Rackley three pointer. The Pioneers would not be denied as they began to try to find a way back into the ballgame. The Pioneers went on a 9-3 run before Coach Shepherd called a timeout with 15 minutes remaining in the final half. The Bobcats began to heat up after the timeout and three-point baskets by Rackley, Tanner Rogers, and Andrew Mitchell would help the Bobcats calm the storm and push themselves back out to a 55-41 lead. The Bobcats continued to keep a double-digit lead with great play by Ayden Stone in the paint and great passes by Treydon Rackley. After pushing the lead out to 17 points, Mitchell was found wide open at the top of the three-point line and splashed it home to give the Bobcats a 64-44 lead with 6 minutes remaining in the game. The Bobcats would continue to put points on the scoreboard with three-point baskets from Josh Linehan and Tanner Rogers as they ended the game on a 11-5 run and with a 72-49 victory in hand.
The win for the Bobcats officially clinches them a spot in the NAIA tournament for the second consecutive year. When asked, Coach Shepherd stated, “We did a good job with our defense and rebounding tonight. The guys played hard and with enthusiasm, and I am very proud of their effort.”
Ayden Stone and Treydon Rackley led all scorers with 17 points. Andrew Mitchell contributed 16 points with four makes from three. Josh Linehan added 10, while Garret Simmerman pulled in 13 rebounds along with 6 points, and Tanner Rogers chipped in 6 points.
The win puts the Bobcats in the A.I.I. Championship game set to begin at 5:00 PM tomorrow against Voorhees College.