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By JAMES CARSKADON
For the Daily News
MABEN â€“ West Oktibbeha head coach Danny Crawford was trying to send a message to two of his younger stars when he kept Dantaveus Crawford and Kendrin Yates on the bench for the majority of three games for â€ślax play.â€ť
That message was received.
Crawford scored 20 points and Yates had 16 in the Timberwolvesâ€™ 71-62 over Smithville Tuesday night.
â€śYates and Crawford were hungry tonight,â€ť Crawford said. â€śOnce you take a kid and put him on that bench, it humbles them a lotâ€¦. I took them out of the spotlight and they came back hungry.â€ť
Dantaveus, who is Danny Crawfordâ€™s nephew, had two dunks that ignited that crowd, as well as a 2-minute span that saw him score six points.
The win improved the Tâ€™Wolvesâ€™ record to 17-5 heading into a collision with top-ranked Okolona on Friday. Crawfordâ€™s team is currently ranked third in the Clarion Ledgerâ€™s Class A rankings.
Even though West Oktibbeha led for most of the game, Smithville was able to stay within striking distance until the final minute of play behind 22 points from guard Munchie Freeman.
Behind Crawfordâ€™s nine second quarter points, the Timberwolves held a 38-34 advantage going into halftime. Aaron Brownlee and Yates started to warm up in the third quarter, and West Oktibbeha led 59-49 with at the end of the period.
The fourth quarter became a defensive struggle for both teams as the Seminoles attempted a comeback, but they were never able to get any closer than six points behind the Timberwolves.
In a last chance effort, Smithville had the ball down six 24 seconds left after a technical on Crawford, but the Seminoles missed a jumper and the Timberwolves grabbed the rebound.
West Oktibbeha held on to seal the 71-62 win. While Crawford was happy with the win, he was disappointed his defense did not put the game away sooner.
â€śWhen you try to make a run to put a team away you have to get stops,â€ť Crawford said. â€śWe werenâ€™t getting stops when we needed to get stops. Weâ€™re up eight or nine, theyâ€™re about ready to give up, and we give them second-life with extra opportunities.â€ť
Brownlee finished with 14 points for the Timberwolves, and sophomore Von Smith ended the game with eight.
West Oktibbeha 67,
Sheila Baileyâ€™s Lady Timberwolves easily took care of Smithville.
West Oktibbehaâ€™s defense held Smithville to one field goal the entire first half, and only six in the entire game. Assistant coach Kevin Bailey was glad to get his younger players some playing time, but thought his team played â€śsloppyâ€ť overall.
â€śWe wanted it to be hard for them to make passes, and that is what we tried to do,â€ť Bailey said. â€śThey did a good job, but we were a little too aggressive and got into foul trouble.â€ť
Behind 13 first half points from Bethany Brownlee, who would finish with 20, the Lady Timberwolves enjoyed a comfortable 40-9 advantage at the break.
It was more of the same in the second half as the West Oktibbeha defense continued to force turnovers and pressure shots and cruised.
The leading score for the Lady Timberwolves was Jaslynn Bedford with 22 points, and Brownleeâ€™s 20 also helped set the pace. MSU signee Shamia Robinson had a quiet 11 points, but Kevin Bailey hopes Bedford and Brownlee can take some of the pressure off Robinson.
â€śWe need Bedford to keep stepping up,â€ť Bailey said. â€śWe need her going for the rest of the district run and once we get to the playoffs. We know Shamia can get hers, but we need the rest of everybody else to get theirs.â€ť
Bethany Jonesâ€™ eight points and Shawna Brownleeâ€™s seven points rounded out the scoring for the Lady Timberwolves.