After College of the Ozarks women’s basketball victory Nov. 5 over Evangel University, the College honored former Lady Bobcat Kelsie Cleeton by retiring her jersey.
Cleeton came to College of the Ozarks following an illustrious career at Hillcrest High School, which included being named All-State three times and leading her team to the Final Four during her senior season.
With talent and work ethic, Cleeton quickly began to rack up accolades for the Lady Bobcats. She would go on to become a two-time NAIA First Team All-American, NCCAA First Team All-American, and WBCA First Team All-American. In addition, she was named NCCAA Central Region Co-Player of the Year and made the NCCAA DI All-Region Five-Person Team in 2017-2018. Cleeton was selected twice as the A.I.I. Player of the Year, A.I.I. Defensive Player of the Year three times, A.I.I. Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, and A.I.I. First Team All-Conference. During her time at C of O, the Lady Bobcats had a combined record of 118-16, which included four trips to the NAIA DII Women’s Basketball National Championship and two quarter-final appearances.
The Lady Bobcat record book has Cleeton’s named stamped throughout. Most people would suspect the point guard to be the all-time leader is assists, with 542 for her career, but Cleeton shattered the mold by becoming the all-time career leader in rebounds with 1,320. She is also raked No. 3 all-time in steals, No. 9 in points scored, and No. 15 in both career three-pointers and free-throws made.
Lady Bobcat fans will remember Cleeton’s Senior Night performance. For most, a double-double or triple-double would be a career evening. However, during her career Kelsie made them commonplace. Yet, she found another level on Senior Night and treated Lady Bobcat fans to a program-first quadruple-double, tallying 14 points, 13 rebounds, 12 steals, and 11 assists.
When reflecting on Kelsie and her impact, Head Coach Becky Mullis stated, “Kelsie’s passion for the game of basketball and her work ethic embodied what it means to play for our program. What set her apart was her drive to be the best and her competitiveness in both practice and games played. It is fitting that #5 will never be worn again by a Lady Bobcat and will hang in the rafters along with six other all-time great Lady Bobcat players.”