With a host of young players on the Bobcat roster, growth and development is the primary objective in the early part of the 2021-22 campaign. The competitive Bobcats continue to focus on game-by-game improvement and are building as they go. While they have come up short in several contests in the early going, they have competed well and shown flashes of what they can be with more experience and maturity.
The Bobcats traveled up the road to Springfield for the Baptist Bible College Classic over the weekend and faced the Grand View Vikings, from Des Moines, Iowa Friday, and Central Methodist University in the Saturday contest.
Friday, November 12 vs Grand View
The classic opener got off to a slow start for both teams as neither could put points on the board in the early going. Josh Linehan opened the scoring at the 17:57 mark and followed with a three a short time later. A Garrett Simmerman bucket put the Bobcats up 7-0 through the first 4:24 of the contest. Ryan Miller put the Vikings on the board with a pair of free throws and Brady Sartorious followed with a basket. The Bobcats held the early momentum and threes by Tanner Rogers and Blaine Cline added to the lead. The Vikings continued to struggle offensively, and the Bobcats capitalized. A Matt Luebbert three-point play gave the Bobcats an 18-6 advantage with 12:47 remaining in the half. Sartorious struck again with a Viking basket and Drew Johnson followed with a three to cut into the Bobcat lead. The Bobcat cold spell had begun and GVU began to climb back into the contest. Jack Trudo scored, and Ryan Miller connected on a pair of free throws before Matt Luebbert would get the Bobcats back in the scoring column at the 9:54 mark. A Drew Johnson three cut the Bobcat lead to one, 19-18 and a Drew Johnson three gave Grand View their first lead of the night. The battle was on as Drew Vachon answered to tie it for the Bobcats, 21-21. The teams traded baskets over the next several minutes with the Vikings holding the slight upper hand. With Grand view leading, 28-26, the defense for both teams made a stand and neither team would score until Tanner Diaz hit a mid-range jumper to pull the Bobcats even. A three by the Vikings’ Drew Johnson at the :42 mark would round out the 1st half scoring, and the Bobcats would go to the intermission trailing 31-28.
The battle would continue in the second half. GVU opened the scoring the same way they ended the first half, with a three by Drew Johnson. Kyle Flavin immediately answered for the Bobcats with a basket, but Grand View responded. Flavin hit another jumper to bring the Bobcats within one and Tanner Rogers scored with 16:12 remaining to give the Bobcats a one point advantage. The lead was short lived as the Vikings scored on their next possession to regain the lead. A Tanner Rogers free throw tied the score at 38 but Ryan Miller answered with a basket and a three to put the Vikings up by five. The Viking offense began to heat up and the Bobcats needed to do the same. A 10-4 run built the VIking lead to 11, 53-42 and the Bobcats needed a timeout to regroup. Matt Luebbert connected on one of two free throws after the timeout, but Grand View continued to attack. The Bobcats continued to battle but Grand View continued to answer the challenge. Trailing by 11, with 9:57 remaining, time began to be a concern for the Bobcats. Garrett Simmerman scored to cut the lead to single digits and the Bobcats needed defensive stops. The defense stepped up to the challenge and a Josh Linehan basket, followed by free throws by Kyle Flavin and Garrett Simmerman capped a Bobcat 6-0 run and cut the lead to 57-52. The Vikings took a timeout, and a Drew Johnson trey broke the Bobcats streak. The Vikings continued to build their lead but a Tanner Rogers three with 6:32 remaining cut the gap to eight, 64-56. The Bobcats continued to scrap and free throws by Garrett Simmerman, followed by a Linehan basket, cut the lead to four. The momentum had shifted, and the Bobcats had made things interesting. GVU continued to hold off the Bobcat charge and the teams traded baskets over the next three minutes. A Garett Simmerman traditional three-point play cut the gap to two, 71-69, with 1:24 remaining. Grand View connected on pressure free throws to go up by five with :35 left in regulation. A Kyle Flavin three cut the deficit to two and the Bobcats fouled immediately to send Ryan Miller to the line. Miller connected on both free throws with :07 left to play and the Bobcats trailed by four. Matt Luebbert connected on a shot as time expired and the comeback bid fell short, 74-72.
The Bobcats placed four in double figures with Josh Linehan scoring 18, Garrett Simmerman – 14, Kyle Flavin – 13, and Matt Luebbert chipped in 10. Tanner Rogers added nine, Blaine Cline contributed six, and Tanner Diaz and Drew Vachon each added two.
Saturday, November 13 vs Central Methodist
The Bobcats were set to bounce back as they faced the Eagles of Central Methodist University in the Saturday matchup.
The contest started off as a back-and-forth affair with neither team able to create a gap. The Bobcat scoring opened with a pair of threes by Josh Linehan and Tanner Rogers, but a Jonathan Brown basket gave the Eagles an 8-6 lead with 15:16 left to play in the half. Neither team would score for the next 2:05. Kyle Flavin broke the dry streak with a deep three and gave the Bobcats their first lead since the opening minutes. CMU quickly responded with a layup and a jumper. Kyle Flavin drained another three to pull the Bobcats even and tie the score at 12. A pair of free throws and a CMU three built the lead to five with 10:18 left to play. Andrew Mitchell connected from long range and Josh Linehan scored off a Tanner Diaz assist, and the score was knotted at 17. The Bobcats regained the lead on a Josh Linehan three at the 8:36 mark and Andrew Mitchell connected on back-to-back threes to put the lead at five, 26-21. Luebbert connected on five straight points to build the lead to eight before a Tim Cameron three-point play cut it back to five. The Eagles offense found their groove and began to heat up. With 2:40 left in the half, CMU regained the lead on a Jonathan Brown basket, 37-35. The teams traded baskets to close out the half with Matt Luebbert scoring at the buzzer to send the Bobcats to the intermission trailing 41-39.
The second half continued to be a tug of war as neither team could build a lead. A Fode Camara basket for the eagles with 16:45 remaining was followed by an Isaiah May three, and CMU suddenly had a seven-point advantage. A Bobcat timeout was called to break the momentum and Josh Linehan added to the strategy with a quick two out of the huddle. The Eagles continued to attack but the persistent Bobcats would not give in. Andrew Mitchell scored at the 15:31 mark and Josh Linehan followed with a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to three, 55-52. The teams traded baskets and free throws over the next three minutes until a Josh Linehan basket, and one, cut the Eagle lead to one. The Eagles’ Jonathan Brown responded with a three and the defenses for both teams took over. Neither team could score for the next two minutes, and the Eagles were clinging to a four point advantage. The Bobcat cold streak continued at a crucial point in the game as CMU began to heat up. A Jonathan Brown three and a Jayden McGrew basket opened a nine point lead for the Eagles. The Bobcats called a timeout to regroup and right on cue, Kyle Flavin busted a jumper to end the Bobcat drought. Not to be outdone, the Eagles answered with a traditional three-point play and the Bobcat deficit was quickly back to 13, 71-58. Andrew Mitchell connected on back-to-back shots and a pair of free throws to keep the deficit at 10, 75-65, with 4:07 left to play. The Bobcats were unable to make up ground and the Eagles slowly inched toward the buzzer. A pair of free throws by Josh Linehan would be the extent of the Bobcat offense to end the game. The Bobcats continued to compete and battle throughout the game but the Eagles took the contest, 84-70.
The Bobcats were led by Josh Linehan with 24 points. Andrew Mitchell poured in 18 and Kyle Flavin contributed double figures, scoring 10. Tanner Rogers chipped in six, while Garrett Simmerman and Blaine Cline added two each.
The Bobcats will be back on the road next weekend as they head to LaCross, Wisconsin for the Viterbo University Classic. They will face Bellevue University Friday at 5 PM and Viterbo University at 3 PM Saturday