CRAWFORD – This time of year is crucial to a team's postseason outlook.
For the East Oktibbeha High School boys' team, they locked up third place in Class A, Region 5, District 4 with a 79-51 win over Nanih Waiya Friday night.
The Titans fell behind early after they were given a technical foul during warm-ups when a player dunked. The Warriors knocked down two free throws before they got the ball back. They made a field goal to go ahead 4-0.
East Oktibbeha went on a 12-0 run to take a 12-4 lead. The Warriors made a pair of free throws, but the Titans ended the quarter on a 7-0 run to take a 19-6 lead into the second quarter.
That was as close as Nanih Waiya was able to cut it to.
The Titans turned on the press early and never backed off of it until the fourth quarter.
"We haven't ran it a whole lot this year," East Oktibbeha head coach Barnett Robinson said. "We are just trying to throw in a few things before the district tournament starts because we know now everything is 0-0. It's a new season."
The press gave the Warriors fits all night. Guard Luke Rosemond was able to handle it, but the other guards did not.
"He can handle, but the thing is he gets caught trying to do it by himself," Nanih Waiya head coach Ron Swart said of Rosemond. "When you kick the ball to the other guy, they can't get it up the court. You run into problems."
The second and third quarters saw the Titans stretch their lead out to 45-20 and 60-31 respectively.
"We have young guys, they're older, but they are young guys playing," Swart said. "In other words, we have lost in the last couple of years, most of our guard play. When we get pressed, we struggle. Our post game is solid but you have to be able to get it to the post game."
It was an especially sweet win for the seniors as it came on senior night. The seniors have been a part of three district championships. Robinson knows they played a large roll in those titles.
"They meant a lot," Robinson said of the seniors. "We have won the district championship three years in a row. And that means a lot to them. A lot of them want to go out with another one."
The Warriors were led by Rosemond and Colby Faves with 11 points each.
The Titans only had one player in double figures as most of the starters made it an early night. Ladarius Williams led East Oktibbeha with 10 points.
East Oktibbeha 52,
Nanih Waiya 31
CRAWFORD – The Lady Titans responded from a sloppy first quarter to win their final district game.
The Lady Warriors used a 7-4 run early in the first quarter to take the lead. East Oktibbeha responded with a 6-0 run to end the first quarter to take a 10-7 lead into the second period.
"You have to get the cobwebs out in the first quarter," East Oktibbeha head coach Pam Roberts said. "When we let them go up on us, I told them we can't start like this. We have to do work."
Just like the Titans, the Lady Titans used a full-court press to take control of the ballgame. It is something East Oktibbeha has worked on all year and Roberts has seen its effectiveness.
"We have been working on it all season long," Roberts said. "It's proved to be a successful defense. I have been pushing my girls to keep it and hold it tight so it does help us. It keeps us in the game when we are falling behind. It brings us to a point where we can stay ahead when we do, do it successfully."
The Lady Titans were clinging to a 24-19 lead at the half before they opened up a 41-27 lead entering the final frame.
Nanih Waiya was led by Brooke Richardson with 10 points.
Quanisha Doss led the Lady Titans with 16 points. Savannah Blair and Alexia Hairston each had 13 points. East Oktibbeha improved to 14-12 overall and 10-2 in the district.
The Lady Titans will either be the No. 2 or No. 3 seed depending on the outcome of Friday night's French Camp-Weir game.