West Oktibbeha head coach Danny Crawford talks to some of his players in a game earlier this summer at the Starkville Sportsplex. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)
It is hard for programs to have long stretches of winning seasons, winning championships and being a mainstay in their sports.
For the West Oktibbeha High School boys' basketball team, the next season will be one of rebuilding. The Timberwolves are losing seven seniors from last year's squad and replacing them with seven sophomores
"I am trying to develop some of these 10th graders," West Oktibbeha head coach Danny Crawford said. "They have to play this year so I am focusing on them and trying to get them better."
The Timberwolves have been participating in the Starkville Sportsplex high school summer league. They snuck by East Webster Monday afternoon.
West Oktibbeha lost to Biggersville last season at the Class A North State Tournament. It won its division but fell to Houlka in the division tournament championship game.
The young players are going to have to step up and Crawford does not expect much out of the upcoming season.
"This year we are going to be down bad," Crawford said. "Three years, we have won 20 plus ballgames. This year, it's early in the summer, (but) I don't see it. I got a good group of seniors returning, but at some point, these young kids are going to have to play. They are just young."
Crawford had seniors like Kendrin Yates and Devin Culpepper who stepped up and led the team scoring-wise. They will be missed.
The sophomores did not get the opportunity to play alongside of these seniors in games.
"They were on the junior varsity squad last year," Crawford said. "They practiced with the varsity but they didn't make the varsity squad because I couldn't keep them. It's hard right now. Varsity ball is so much faster."
Along with playing at the Starkville Sportsplex, Crawford's squad is also playing in other summer leagues like the Noxubee County league.
"It is great for my kids," Crawford said. "It's good they are getting game experience. This summer is good for them."
Crawford has a large task in front of him this summer, but he sees it as a long term boost.
"It's a good thing," Crawford said. "By their junior year, I think they will be solid."
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