MABEN – After getting upset in the regional championship by Houlka, the West Oktibbeha Timberwolves were a determined team in the first round of the North Class A playoffs.
It was not long before senior Kendrin Yates and the rest of the Timberwolves made quick work of the visiting Ingomar Falcons and defeated them 73-48.
The game was all but over after the first quarter as the Timberwolves dominated both ends of the court to take a 26-11 lead. Yates scored 13 points in the quarter to go a long with a pair of steals.
The Timberwolves did not score their first points in the second quarter until over 2 minutes into it, but when they did, it brought the crowd to its feet. Yates led the fast break off of another Timberwolves’ steal, but instead of laying it up himself, he tossed it off the backboard for Donteavous Crawford to slam home.
It was one of four dunks in the first half for the Timberwolves, who had numerous steals and easy fast break points. Yates said dunks are key to gaining the momentum in the game.
“Everybody has to be a team right about now,” Yates said. “As a high school team, if we get a dunk in, that just takes all of their momentum, so that’s what we’re playing for.”
Down 39-19 at halftime, the Falcons did not go away easily in the second half due to the intensity of Steven Foster and LaQuain Foster. Steven Foster led the Falcons with 16 points and added four rebounds.
The Falcons came out in an aggressive press to start the half, which hardly phased the Timberwolves. Instead, they used the opportunity to account for even more fast break points.
Timberwolves’ head coach Danny Crawford said he applauds teams that press his team.
“I invite teams to press us because we have a lot of athletes, so when teams press us, we get easy layups,” Crawford said. “It was an all-around team effort. That’s what we’ve been preaching the last two days is not to rely on one person, and we got it done as a team on both ends of the floor.”
Every offensive possession for the Falcons was a battle, but even when they scored a bucket, the Timberwolves would come right back with a quick, easy basket of their own.
Many of the easy points came from the paint, where Smith and senior Devin Culpepper dominated throughout the game. Crawford finished with 14 points, while Culpepper added 13.
The last few minutes of each quarter, the Timberwolves slowed things down and tried to play for the final shot. While it may have looked like they were stalling, Coach Crawford said it had more to do with spending less time on defense.
“We weren’t trying to stall, but lately I’ve realized my team’s been playing more defense because we’ve been putting up quick shots on offense,” Crawford said. “So when we have a 25- or 30- point lead, there’s no reason to keep shooting the ball; we just need to take out time and slow the game down and keep getting the ball inside.”
Culpepper added the team does like to get out and run but knew they should slow things down.
“We just sat back and ran our offense trying to chew the clock,” Culpepper said. “We had a 20-point lead, so we weren’t in a rush to score the ball anymore, so since it was the first round, we were trying to get to the next level and take our time on our sets.”
If the Timberwolves continue to slow down games, the post presence of Culpepper and Crawford will become even more important as they go further and further into the playoffs.