The College of the Ozarks Bobcats celebrated senior Day last Saturday and recognized two players who have been consistent contributors to the program. Matt Luebbert is a solid defender who is tough on both ends of the floor, especially in the realm of defense and rebounding. Andrew Mitchell is a sharp shooting guard who has the ability to turn a game around in just a few possessions and has become a respected threat from beyond the arc. Both guys have been solid contributors in the Bobcat uniform and have shown perseverance and determination through some difficult times in the program.
After the senior recognition, the Bobcats were looking to avenge an earlier loss to the Patriots of Baptist Bible College. The Bobcats had the game in Springfield narrowly slip away and they were determined to bounce back and defend their home court.
The Bobcats demonstrated their determination from the opening tip and a basket by Josh Linehan, a three by Andrew Mitchell, a Matt Luebbert free throw, and a three by Kyle Flavin had BBC in a tailspin and needing a timeout. The Bobcat defense was doing the job as well and held the Patriots without a basket for the first 4:52 of the contest. Linehan connected on a pair of free throws and Tanner Rogers jumped into the scoring column with a three at the 14:32 mark. The Patriots began to get their offense going but the Bobcats continued to answer the challenges. Garrett Simmerman, Devin Carroll, and Terry Gupton teamed up with a Josh Linehan dunk and the Bobcats built a 23-14 lead, midway through the half. Luebbert scored back-to-back baskets and Devein Carrol nailed another three and the Bobcats slowly increased their lead. BBC battled back and with 3:30 left in the half, cut the gap to 35-27. Luebbert provided the response and a Devin Carroll three closed out the half with the Bobcats leading 40-29.
BBC came out determined in the second half and it was up to the Bobcats to hold them off. The Patriots scored first but Kyle Flaven answered with a three-point play. The teams traded baskets, and neither could improve their position. For every basket the Patriots made, the Bobcats responded. A Devin Carroll three was combined with a Flavin three, and a Simmerman basket, and the Bobcat lead inched up to 58-42. The Patriots were not going away but the Bobcats were determined to keep the pressure on. BBC was able to chip away at the Bobcat lead and reduced the deficit to 67-57 before Devin Carroll splashed home a pair of threes. Terry Gupton added a three of his own to keep the double-digit lead intact. Baskets by Josh Linehan and Garrett Simmerman gave the Bobcats their biggest lead, 80-60, with 4:32 remaining. BBC knew they needed a serious push to keep the game respectable. Pressure defense and several threes cut into the Bobcat lead, but free throws by Devin Carroll, Tanner Rogers, and Terry Gupton nailed down the win and the Bobcats took the Senior Day contest 88-77.
Devin Carroll led all scorers with 21 points, including 6-6 from beyond the arc and 3-4 from the charity stripe. Kyle Flavin poured in 19, and Josh Linehan added 13. Terry Gupton, Matt Luebbert, and Andrew Mitchell chipped in eight each, and Garrett Simmerman and Tanner Rogers contributed seven and four respectively.
The Bobcats will be back in action at home this Friday as they host the NCCAA Regional Tournament. The Bobcats will face BBC again at 7 PM. Ecclesia College and SAGU-American Indian College will square off at 5 PM Friday at Keeter Gym. The winner of the semifinal games will play for the Regional Championship at 4 PM Saturday at College of the Ozarks.