MABEN – Tuesday’s Class A District 4 Region 1 semifinal game between the No. 3 seed West Oktibbeha Lady Timberwolves and the No. 6 seed Smithville Lady Seminoles was a possession battle throughout the game.
Steals and turnovers were running rampant through the gym, but in the end, it was the Timberwolves who came out on top 70-37.
The Lady Timberwolves made a dent in the scoreboard just 4 seconds into the game with a free throw by senior Brenesha Brownlee. This allowed West Oktibbeha to move straight into a press, where the steals began to abound. Senior Brittany Jones was responsible for the majority of the Timberwolves’ steals and found junior Jaslyne Bedford for lay up after lay up.
However, Smithville stayed in the game due to freshman Lane Kennedy. Kennedy had a third of the Lady Noles’ points in the first quarter, but her team trailed 13-12.
The Lady Noles settled down in the second quarter and maintained better control of the ball but were not able to slow down the scoring duo of Bedford and Brownlee. Both girls scored 10 points in the half as the Lady Timberwolves led 27-19 heading into the locker rooms.
Brownlee said she knew her team would eventually put the game out of reach.
“We started off a little rocky, but after halftime we got it together and started scoring and pulled it out,” Brownlee said. “They didn’t have good ball handling, so we knew with a little pressure, they would turn it over more and more.”
The third quarter started off as more of the same as the Lady Timberwolves quickly went on an 8-0 run 3 minutes into the half to widen their lead to 16 points. Offensively, the Timberwolves slowed things down, but the girls brought the press back on defense, which frustrated the Lady Noles. Bedford, Brownlee and Jones put too much pressure on the Lady Noles and kept the ball on their end of the basket most of the game.
Kennedy was held scoreless in the quarter as the Lady Timberwolves put the game out of reach, leading 48-26 after three quarters of play.
Things got ugly in the fourth quarter as Bedford and Brownlee continued to rack up points. Bedford fouled out midway through the fourth, which allowed some of the other players to get experience.
For the night, Bedford finished with 22 points, while Brownlee led all scorers with 26 in route to the win over the Lady Noles.
Lady Timberwolves’ head coach Marcus Johnson said he thought his seniors really led the team throughout the game
“We played a little sloppy, and even though we won the game," Johnson said. "I’m not satisfied with our execution. We have to stay out of foul trouble and keep hitting the boards hard, but hats off to Smithville; they played a good game.”
With the win, West Oktibbeha improved to 11-12 for the season. Up next for the Timberwolves is Tremont in the semifinal game Thursday night. Tremont defeated the Timberwolves on senior night recently, so Bedford said the girls are excited to have another opportunity to play them.
“We’re going to get some great revenge,” Bedford said. “We’re going to play hard, communicate, play very well, execute and beat them.”
The winner of the West Oktibbeha-Tremont game will play for the championship Friday night.