MABEN – For the second time in five days, the West Oktibbeha boys basketball team couldn't quite deliver the knockout blow to an opposing giant.
After watching a double-digit lead disappear on Friday in a loss to Noxubee County, the Timberwolves saw a similar script unfold Tuesday night in Maben as West Oktibbeha was defeated by Columbus 53-51 in double overtime.
"This is deja vu," said Timberwolves head coach Danny Crawford. "We just weren't able to finish (on Friday). That's the same thing we did (Tuesday).
"We're just not finishing right now and that's bothering me because I've got a veteran group. Bottom line, the last two games we've lost to 4A and 6A schools and we've let them off the hook."
West Oktibbeha (5-2) led by as many as 14 points late in the second quarter against Columbus before the Falcons (2-4) came back and ultimately surged to the win.
"We just stayed the course," said Columbus head coach Sammy Smith. "We didn't panic. I didn't panic, and if I don't panic, the kids don't panic. I just told the kids to relax, don't worry about it, we're going to be OK."
Kendrin Yates led West Oktibbeha with a game-high 19 points, eight of which came after regulation, but it wasn't enough to turn away Columbus.
Von Smith added nine points for the Timberwolves, all nine coming in the first half as West Oktibbeha surged to a 30-16 advantage with 1:57 to play before the intermission.
Along with Smith, the Timberwolves relied on their play in the low post to seemingly take control of the contest.
"We were going inside," said Crawford. "I've got four inside guys that are averaging a double-double right now. They rebound the ball good. They score the ball good. That's been the key to our success this year is getting the ball to them. We were doing that when we were up.
"Second half, we kept going inside, but our intensity just dropped. I didn't expect that at home."
Columbus used West Oktibbeha's struggles to climb back into the game.
By the end of the third quarter, the Falcons had climbed to within six points at 37-31.
Columbus finally evened things at 39-39 when Devin Barry, who finished with 14 points, sank a basket and a free throw with 2:21 left in the fourth quarter.
After each team traded baskets in regulation's final two minutes, the contest went to overtime tied at 41.
In the first extra period, Yates scored six points as West Oktibbeha built a 47-42 lead with just 1:15 to play, but Columbus scored five unanswered points to force an additional frame.
In the second overtime, the Timberwolves took a 51-47 lead, but the Falcons again responded, taking the lead for good on C.J. Scott's basket with 57 seconds remaining.
Aaron Brownlee missed a desperation 3-point attempt for West Oktibbeha as time expired.
With Brownlee's miss, West Oktibbeha's collapse was complete.
Meanwhile Crawford was left searching for answers after the Timberwolves let another one slip away.
"There'd be an explanation for this if I had 9th and 10th graders because I could say they're young," said Crawford. "But when you've got juniors and seniors...that were a game away from the state tournament last year and you're not finishing ballgames, there's no explanation for that."
West Oktibbeha will attempt to bounce back on Friday at home against Okolona.
Friday's action begins with a 6 p.m. girls game.
West Oktibbeha 34
MABEN – Kiandria Patterson scored 22 points to lead Columbus in a win over West Oktibbeha.
Jaslyne Bedford scored 18 points for the Lady Timberwolves and Breneshia Brownlee added 11, but it wasn't enough for West Oktibbeha, who fell to 4-3.
"We got off to a bad start," said Lady Timberwolves coach Marcus Johnson. "Our defense, it just broke down, and Columbus executed. They opened it up and jumped out and didn't look back."
West Oktibbeha will try to rebound from Tuesday's loss on Friday when the Lady Timberwolves host Okolona in a 6 p.m. game.