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West Oktibbeha hosts Christmas Classic event

December 15, 2010

Coach Danny Crawford's West Oktibbeha basketball squad will see two of the teams it has lost to this season during tournament action over the next three days. (Kim Murrell/SDN)

Much like the holiday it's named after, the West Oktibbeha Christmas Classic has the potential to give both the Timberwolves and Lady Timberwolves basketball squads exactly what they want.
For boys coach Danny Crawford, the three-day, five-team event that begins today in Maben provides the chance for retribution.
On the girls side, coaches Kevin and Shelia Bailey have the opportunity to keep the Lady Timberwolves streaking.
All there is to do now is seize the moment.
"It's ironic that two of the three teams that have beat us (East Oktibbeha and West Lowndes), we get to play in our gym," said Crawford, whose Timberwolves currently sit at 11-3. "Both of our losses to those two teams came down to us not playing mentally tough. We just made a lot of mental mistakes. We've been working on fixing that."
The West Oktibbeha boys' first chance to garner payback comes tonight at 9:30 p.m. against the same East Oktibbeha team that came to Maben and defeated the Timberwolves 85-84 in double overtime just five days ago.
On that night, the previously winless Titans overcame an 11-point fourth quarter deficit thanks in large part to a 32-point performance from East Oktibbeha standout Casey Neal.
Neal hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to send the game into overtime, tied the game with a basket late in the first extra period to extend the game again, then sank what would go on to be the winning bucket in double overtime.
"Our team took both (the West Lowndes and East Oktibbeha) losses extremely hard, but moreso the East Oktibbeha loss," said Crawford. "So we've mainly been working on our defense. We gave up 85 total points and gave one guy 32 points. Watching film, (East Oktibbeha) didn't hit but seven three-pointers, so they weren't shooting the ball. They were beating us to the rim. So we've been focusing on defense this week."
Crawford hopes the lessons learned will pay off both tonight against the Titans and Saturday at 8:30 p.m. against West Lowndes as the Timberwolves try and redeem themselves.
"Against both teams earlier this year, we had the lead late and lost it," said Crawford. "So the team definitely wants revenge."
As the Timberwolves look to get back to their winning ways, the Lady Timberwolves hope to simply stay rolling.
The West Oktibbeha girls currently sit at 8-6 and have won five straight.
The Lady Timberwolves' surge has coincided with the return of Mississippi State commitment Shamia Robinson from knee surgery which sidelined her for the season's first month.
"Having Shamia back has increased all the girls' excitement about playing basketball," said Kevin Bailey. "They are all starting to enjoy themselves now. Before she came back, the team wasn't having as much fun out there. They didn't seem to have their identity."
While Robinson still hasn't started a game yet, she's been providing the team with a major lift off the bench.
Last Saturday in a 62-60 win over East Oktibbeha, Robinson scored 37 points and hauled in 14 rebounds.
"We were a good team without Shamia, but definitely, everyone's confidence skyrockets whenever she's on the court," said Kevin Bailey after Saturday's win.
With his team starting to believe in themselves, Kevin Bailey now hopes his team can start putting opponents away with better pressing defense and improved ball movement, beginning with today's 8 p.m. rematch against East Oktibbeha.
"We need to put more teams in trouble with our press," said Kevin Bailey. "Also, we make bad passes at times. We need to get better with our decision-making on offense. Doing those things, sometimes we let teams stay in the game too long."
Kevin Bailey hopes that won't be the case today against the Lady Titans or in Saturday's 7 p.m. game against West Lowndes.
When the West Oktibbeha boys or girls aren't playing in their hosted event, there will still be plenty of hoops action going on.
Games not featuring the hosts over the course of the three days will see Aberdeen battle West Lowndes today with girls action at 5 p.m. and the boys game at 6:30 p.m.
On Friday, West Lowndes takes on East Oktibbeha with the girls contest at 4 p.m. and the boys matchup at 5:30 p.m.
Aberdeen and New Hope round out Friday's slate with a girls game at 7 p.m. and a boys game at 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, the girls of East Oktibbeha and Aberdeen begin the day's schedule with a 4 p.m. game, immediately followed at 5:30 p.m. by a boys game.

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