For fans that left Keeter Gymnasium around, or shortly after halftime of the Bobcat matchup against the Kansas Christian College Falcons, you missed an exciting half of basketball. The Bobcats went into the intermission trailing by 18 and got down by as many as 23 before mounting a furious comeback. While the Bobcats eventually fell in overtime, the game provided an exciting atmosphere and fans witnessed a valiant effort by the home team.
The Bobcats struggled to put points on the board from the opening tip. KCC, on the other hand, found the bottom of the net early and often to put the Cats in an early hole. Andrew Mitchell scored the first points of the game for the Bobcats with a deep three, but the Falcons opened with a 10-3 run to dig the hole. Josh Linehan scored before another Mitchell three, but the Falcons answered, and the deficit was 16-8 in the early going. Kansas Christian continued to apply pressure and the Bobcats could not string points together to cut into the Falcon lead. With every challenge the Bobcats posed, the Falcons provided a quick response. A timeout by the Bobcats was followed by a pair of Josh Linehan baskets and a free throw, but the Falcons kept pace. Another Bobcat timeout at the 10:56 mark saw the Cats trailing 28-13. The Bobcats were able to hold the Falcons to their current lead, but as time was winding down in the half, they needed more. The need to cut into the deficit was becoming more and more urgent as the clock continued to wind down. Andrew Mitchell drained another three with 4:43 left in the half, but the Falcons responded with back-to-back threes to extend their lead to 40-19. Threes by Devin Carroll and Josh Linehan closed out the half and the Bobcats went to the intermission trailing 44-26.
The Bobcats came out of the locker room needing a spark and a lot of defensive stops. A Tanner Rogers three on the opening possession created some excitement and the crowd began to regain some life. The Falcons quickly responded but there was a feeling in the gym that the Bobcats were not down and out. The two teams traded baskets through the 14:24 mark when a Josh Linehan layup provided the much-needed spark. The Bobcat defense began to feed off the new momentum and Garrett Simmerman and Andrew Mitchell teamed up to cap off a 10-0 run, The Bobcats were back in the game. A pair of Falcon free throws broke the string, but Simmerman went right back to work and scored inside to cut into the lead again. A Kyle Flavin layup and a Cainen Mar three cut the deficit to 62-56 and the Bobcats had created some serious momentum. KCC was definitely rattled, and the Bobcat defense continued knocking on the door. The Falcons scored five unanswered points and the Bobcats could have easily thrown in the towel. Sensing the lack of confidence from the Falcons however, the Bobcats turned up the pressure. A Mar layup was followed by a Simmerman bucket inside and the gap was cut to 67-60. The defense went into lockdown mode and the Falcons were struggling to get their offense going again. A Falcon basket was followed by a Flavin three, and with 4:44 remaining, it was a two-possession game Andrew Mitchell drained a clutch three with 3:57 left to play and the Falcons answered with a basket just a few moments later. Kyle Flavin drained the next Bobcat three and a Josh Linehan layup tied the score at 71-71. For the first time since the tipoff, the score was tied, and the Bobcats clearly had the momentum. Completing a 20 plus point comeback put the Bobcats in position to stun the Falcons and send them home reeling. The Falcons called a timeout to regroup, and a Tanner Rogers basket greeted them out of the huddle. Kyle Flavin drained a three and the Bobcats were up five with :28 showing on the clock. A Falcon three was followed by a Bobcat miscue and a KCC basket at the buzzer tied the score at 76-76 and the game move to overtime.
Having expended a lot of energy to get back into the game, and even take the lead, the Bobcat stamina would be the question mark in the bonus period. The Falcons had grabbed the momentum at the end of regulation and the Bobcats needed to respond quickly. A Falcon basket opened the extra frame scoring but Garrett Simmerman continued his strong play for the response. A traditional three-point play gave the Bobcats a slim advantage. The lead was shot-lived as KCC responded with a three-point play of their own to flip the lead again. The Falcons capitalized on a Bobcat turnover and Coach Shepherd called a timeout to regroup. Now leading 83-79, the Falcons drained a pair of free throws and the Bobcat momentum had faded. A Kyle Flavin three was all the offense the Bobcats could get, and the Falcons added to their lead to secure the 91-82 overtime win.
The Bobcats had mounted a furious comeback (Outscoring KCC 50-32 in the second half) and put themselves in position to pull off the win. The strong defense and some clutch baskets down the stretch gave the Bobcats an opportunity to win and at halftime, that would not have crossed the mind of many in attendance. With much to take from this contest, the Bobcats will look to build on the positive energy as they prepare for the home stretch of the season.
The Bobcats had four in double figures with Josh Linehan leading the way with 19 points, Andrew Mitchell with 18, Kyle Flavin with 16, and Garrett Simmerman added 14. Tanner Rogers chipped in seven, Cainen Mar contributed five, and Devin Carroll tacked on three.
The Bobcats are back in action at home next Saturday, February 4 against Haskell Indian Nations. Game time is 2 PM.