By LEE ADAMS
MABEN – It was easy to tell what kind of night Kendrin Yates was going to have from the first minutes of the game.
Yates made the first three baskets of the game.
His early play carried over for the rest of the game as he finished with 25 points and 16 rebounds, guiding the Timberwolves to a 60-53 win over Okolona Friday night.
"I've been working hard all week to prepare for this game," said Yates. "I was looking for the ball off the glass and when I got it, I would just go straight back up because they were going to foul me or I was going to score."
A lot of his team high 25 points came off the rebound, and even though he led his team to the win, he feels he could have played better.
"If I grade myself I'd give myself a B-minus," said Yates. "I missed too many free throws."
Yates thought he could have played better, but head coach Danny Crawford is happy with his play.
"He's playing at an extremely high level," said Crawford. "He has tremendous talent. He hit the weight room hard this summer and it is showing on the court. He's being the leader I've been wanting him to be and right now he's doing all the right things."
Yates, who is averaging 22 points and 14 rebounds per game this season, had another good night with the help from his teammates, but some old demons showed up for the Timberwolves before halftime.
West Oktibbeha (6-2) has lost two games this season after losing sizable leads. When the Chieftains (2-6) went on an 8-1 run at the end of the second quarter to take a 25-24 lead at halftime, Crawford was determined not to see another lead disappear and turn into a loss. He waited outside the door of the locker room for a few minutes to gather his thoughts and then he went in with "a sick dog will fight at home" being the main topic.
"If we are going to be a 1A contender, you cannot lose 12-, 13-point leads," said Crawford. "I jumped on their stuff pretty good and the intervention worked. We came out in the second half and put them away."
The Timberwolves responded quickly to Crawford's halftime speech as they opened up the third quarter with an 11-2 run. Okolona fought back and pulled within five points at the start of the fourth, but they were unable to pull any closer with West Oktibbeha's defense playing well and their offense clicking. Dantaveous Crawford, who finished with 12 points, took the energy out of the Chieftains with his breakaway dunk after a Javaris Gray steal with a little over a minute remaining in the game.
The play of the Timberwolves in the second half pleased their head coach.
"That was my true team in the second half," said Crawford. "We were battling, rebounding, scoring, running the floor, defending and played up-tempo. That's the kind of basketball I want us to play."
Even though they were able to make the adjustment at halftime and pick up the win, Crawford wasn't too pleased with having to get on to his guys about the same subject.
"With a veteran group it should not take me jumping their stuff at halftime to get the win," said Crawford. "I know it's going to happen sometimes but I shouldn't have to jump on them about the same thing, losing leads, but if they need me to get on them I'll do it. But once this team puts all their differences aside, 1A can't hold us."
West Oktibbeha 42,
Breneshia Brownlee set the tone early for the Lady Timberwolves to pick up the win.
With three early 3-pointers by Brownlee, and solid post play West Oktibbeha cruised to a victory.
The Lady Timberwolves (4-3) dominated Okolona (0-4) in the first quarter holding the Lady Chieftains to only three points while Brownlee scored nine of West Oktibbeha's 14.
Brownlee is one of many guards at the disposal of coaches Cheryl Bowens and Marcus Johnson, so they feel good about her performance and the rest of the season.
"She played excellent tonight," said Johnson. "She's a pretty good shooter and we'll be all right with her and all my other guards."
The Lady Chieftains were never able to pull closer than within nine points of the Lady Timberwolves, but they did have plenty of opportunities. They missed their chances and West Oktibbeha took advantage of them.
Jaslyne Bedford and Victoria Hudson took advantage underneath and put up nine points each and grabbed several rebounds.
"We are a good, solid team on the post," said Johnson. "I laid back a little bit tonight, trying to rest everybody, but the post game is on."
Next up for West Oktibbeha will be in-county rival East Oktibbeha on Dec. 10.