The College of the Ozarks Bobcats opened the 2022 portion of the season at home Monday night against the Central Christian College Saints. The Saints had defeated the Bobcats 91-84 on December 2 and the Bobcats were seeking to avenge that loss and defend their home court.
The earlier game was a battle and this contest looked to be a repeat from the onset. The Bobcats scored first on a Kyle Flavin three, but the Saints quickly responded. The two teams would then enter a tug of war with neither team surrendering any ground. The Saints took their first lead, 9-7, at the 16:24 mark on a Jackson King Jumper. Josh Linehan answered, and the battle was on. A Tanner Rogers three with 12:52 remaining in the half would put the Bobcats back in front 17-16 and a pair of Josh Linehan baskets built the lead to 21-16. The lead was short lived, however, as the Saints came charging back. A traditional three-point play by Tyce Laubinger, followed by a Quincy James jumper put the Saints back on top. The teams traded jabs to a 28-28 tie with 8:33 remaining when Drew Vachon hit a jumper to put the Bobcats up two. The Saints answered but the Bobcats continued to hold the upper hand. The Bobcats matched the challenges of the Saints and with 5:44 remaining in the half, Garrett Simmerman hit a shot inside, then showed his range by draining a three on the next possession. A Blaine Cline jumper gave the Bobcats their biggest lead of the game, 41-32. The Saints continued to battle but the Bobcats held off the charge. Jackson King scored with 2:44 left in the half to cut the Bobcat lead to three, 41-38 but a Josh Linehan basket and a Drew Vachon three gave the Cats a little breathing room. With time winding down, an Andrew Johnson basket cut the Bobcat lead to 46-40 as the game headed to the intermission.
The Saints were determined to keep fighting in the second half and showed it on their first two possessions. Baskets by Tyce Laubinger and Jackson King cut the lead to 46-42 and the Bobcats needed to answer. Garrett Simmerman accepted the challenge as he stepped back and hit his second trey of the night. The teams continued to battle but the Bobcats slowly built a lead. A Kyle Flavin three at the 14:32 mark matched the Bobcats largest advantage, 60-51. The Bobcats had the Saints on the ropes, and they knew they needed to keep the pressure on. Flavin, Linehan, and Andrew Mitchell fueled a 14-2 Bobcat run to open the gap. The Saints tried to use a pair of timeouts to slow the Bobcat momentum, but it was to no avail and the lead was up to 71-53. The Bobcats continued to hold off the Challenges of CCCB and another 7-2 run kept the visitors at bay. A jumper by Andre Johnson brought another Saints timeout with the score 78-59. With one last ditch effort, the Saints turned up the full court pressure on the Bobcats. The Bobcats were unfazed however, and repeatedly beat the pressure to get easy looks at the basket. At the 2:44 mark, a Matt Luebbert basket built the Bobcat lead to 88-62 and the Bobcats were cruising to the final buzzer. The Saints would add to their point total but a Buck Sanders two with less than a minute remaining sealed the win and the Bobcats took the contest 90-69.
The Bobcats were led By Josh Linehan’s 27 points and Garrett Simmerman’s double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Kyle Flavin and Tanner Rogers also recorded double figure scoring with 13 and 11 points respectively. Drew Vachon chipped in seven while Andrew Mitchell added six, Blaine Cline and Matt Luebbert each added four, and Buck Sanders contributed two.
The Bobcats will be in action again Tuesday at home as they take on Haskell Indian Nations University in a 3:00 contest.