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Bobcats Fall Short in Regional Championship

Mar 15, 2024

Bobcat Basketball

McPherson, KS – Looking to extend the 2023-24 season and put together a post-season run, the College of the Ozarks Bobcats opened play in the NCCAA Central Region tournament on Wednesday last week. The Bobcats were set to face the second seed Tigers of Central Christian College with advancement to the regional championship game on the line.

C of O vs Central Christian College of Kansas - Wednesday, March 13
The Bobcats opened the scoring with baskets by Jay Baxter and Kyle Flavin and the Tigers answered with basket of their own. Caleb Faulkner drained a deep three and Garret Snyder and Andrew Dalton got on the board to build an 11-6 Bobcat lead with 16:45 left to play in the half. The Tigers pulled back to within one before a Dalton three extended the Bobcat lead. The tug of war was on, and the teams began trading baskets. The Bobcats held off the challenges of the Tigers and maintained a slim advantage through the opening frame. Leading 26-21 at the 10:25 mark, the Bobcats picked up a basket from Brady Reynolds, and an Andrew Dalton three to build a 31-21 advantage. Jay Baxter, Garrett Snyder and Kyle Flavin teamed up for the Bobcats next 18 points and the Tigers could only keep pace. The Bobcats took a 49-38 lead to the intermission and were looking to continue their hot shooting in the second half.

Garrett Snyder put up the first two points of the second half and the Tigers quickly answered. Threes by Dalton and Snyder extended the Bobcat lead to 58-45 and the Tigers needed a timeout. The Tigers continued to battle and cut the deficit to 60-50 before a pair of Dalton threes extended the cushion. The teams began trading baskets again and the Bobcats held off the challenges of the home team. Brady Reynolds got on the board and Dalton put up seven straight points to build a 75-60 Bobcat lead with 10:30 left to play.  The Tigers took a timeout to regroup but a Garrett Snyder two greeted them out of the huddle. The Bobcats squelched every Tiger attempt at a run and baskets by Baxter, Snyder and Dalton secured an 86-70 lead with 5:14 showing on the clock. Flavin and Faulkner hit a pair of threes and Seth Soden hit a bucket to close out the Bobcat scoring, and the Bobcats sealed the 99-86 win.

Andrew Dalton poured in 35 points to go with 10 rebounds to lead the Bobcats. Garrett Snyder added 26 points, Kyle Flavin chipped in 13, Jay Baxter tacked on 10, and Caleb Faulkner contributed nine. Brady Reynolds and Seth Soden added four and two points respectively.

C of O vs Mission University – Thursday, March 14
With the big semifinal win over Central Christian College of Kansas the day before, the Bobcats were set for their third meeting with Mission University in the NCCAA Central Region Championship game. The two teams had split their earlier meetings and the championship game was sure to be a tight contest.

The Patriots jumped out to the early lead but a Jay Baxter two provided the answer. A pair of MU threes and a pair of twos made it 12-2 and the Bobcats needed a timeout. Threes by Caleb Faulkner and Andrew Dalton got the offense going but Mission continued to apply pressure. Trailing 19-8 at the 14:37 mark, the Bobcats needed to put together a run. Baskets by Faulkner, Flavin, and Baxter kept the Bobcats close, but the Patriots continued to hold onto their advantage. With 11:21 remaining in the half, Andrew Dalton connected inside to start the much-needed run. Faulkner drained a three and Kyle Flavin scored on a drive to cut the gap to 26-24, and the Bobcats were back in business. The teams traded baskets with Seth Soden and Brady Reynolds joining the scoring column, but the Patriots maintained the lead. After the 8:37 mark, the Bobcats went cold from the field. A 12-0 run by the Patriots was the result and the Bobcats found themselves in a 44-29 hole, with 4:37 left in the half. Brady Reynolds and Kyle Flavin put points on the board to end the drought but there was now more work to do. A Kyle Flavin three, a basket by Caleb Faulkner, and a trio of free throws by Andrew Dalton closed the gap to single digits, and a Faulkner three at the 1:03 mark reduced the deficit to 49-43. The Patriots responded with six unanswered points before a Dalton three found the bottom of the net to close out the half. Mission held a 55-46 lead at the break and the Bobcats needed a strong second half to extend their season.

Caleb Faulkner answered the call with a three to start the second half and Garrett Snyder followed with a basket of his own. The Patriots responded with a three and the battle was on. The teams traded baskets over the next several minutes and Baxter, Snyder, and Dalton kept the Bobcats within striking distance. Another 7-0 Mission run forced a Bobcat timeout as the gap had grown to 73-61. A Dalton three and a pair of free throws out of the huddle edged the Bobcats closer again and they were looking for a run. Trading baskets became the norm, and the Bobcats were unable to get over the hump. The Patriots answered the Bobcat Challenges and with 11:18 left to play, the Patriots held an 80-70 advantage. A three and a two from the hands of Caleb Faulkner lifted the Bobcats to within five, but MU found the response again. The trend seemed to be MU going up by 10, then the Bobcats cutting the gap to five or six. With 4:50 left to play, baskets by Dalton and Baxter were combined with a Seth Soden three and the Bobcats had cut the deficit to 86-82. Things were getting tense as a Dalton free throw and a three tied the score 86-86 and Mission took a timeout. The Patriots answered the challenge again to maintain the lead but a Dalton two and a free throw kept it a one-point game 90-89, with 1:39 left to play. A three by the Patriots bumped the lead and the Bobcats were unable to answer. A pair of Patriot free throws closed out the scoring and the Bobcats fell 95-89 in a hard-fought battle.

Andrew Dalton led the Bobcat offensive effort with 29 points and Caleb Faulkner poured in 24 points. Jay Baxter added 10, Kyle Flavin tacked on nine, Garrett Snyder contributed eight, and Seth Soden and Brady Reynolds added six and three respectively.

The Bobcats ended their season with the loss but made great strides in the 2023-24 campaign. Competing night in and night out, the Bobcats gained a lot of valuable experience for their young squad. The Bobcats lose Tanner Rogers and Tanner Diaz to graduation after the season. The two seniors persevered through injuries, the covid era, and other obstacles during their time as Bobcats and they leave a program that is on its way up and building for a bright future. With a young roster and the experience gained, the Bobcats look to be a force in the years to come.