Crawford's jumper gives West Oktibbeha victory
West Oktibbeha's Von Smith (1) assumed defensive position, while Dantaveous Crawford (21) looks on. (Kim Murrell/SDN)
By JOEL COLEMAN
MABEN â€“ The final game of the West Oktibbeha Christmas Classic lived up to the tournament's name.
Dantaveous Crawford's mid-range jumper as time expired capped a furious West Oktibbeha comeback as the Timberwolves erased a 19-point halftime deficit to defeat West Lowndes 68-67.
"I knew we had the talent to, but I didn't think we'd come back and win," said West Oktibbeha head coach Danny Crawford. "(We were) 19 points down at the half to West Lowndes, it's unheard of to come back and win by one."
It looked early like the Panthers were cruising towards their second win over the Timberwolves this season.
West Lowndes (5-5) built themselves a 36-17 lead after the first two quarters, a stretch that visibly frustrated the entire West Oktibbeha squad, particularly Danny Crawford.
With the Panthers inbounding the ball with just under a second to play prior to the intermission, the Timberwolves leader turned his back to the court and began an early trek towards his team's dressing room.
"We had been in that situation before against East Oktibbeha when we just weren't playing hard at home," said Danny Crawford. "I just had to tell them my famous statement and I guess it sunk in. At halftime, I always tell them that even a sick dog will fight at home. They rose to the occasion and I'm real proud of them."
Five Timberwolves scored in double figures to help West Oktibbeha rise from the ashes.
Kendrin Yates recorded a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Dwight Quinn and Aaron Brownlee both tallied 12 points for the Timberwolves, while Von Smith scored 11.
Dantaveous Crawford finished with 15 points, but it was his final two that rocked the city of Maben.
"I felt it and it felt real good when I let it go," Dantaveous Crawford said of his game-winning shot. "Coach drew up a nice play and I just felt it. I had a real good look, it went down and we won the game."
The victory improved West Oktibbeha to 13-3, including a 2-0 mark for the Christmas Classic.
In its hosted event, the Timberwolves got their revenge against two of the three teams that defeated them earlier this season.
On Thursday, West Oktibbeha got its payback against county rival East Oktibbeha with a 64-51 win.
"I got (revenge)," said Danny Crawford. "It feels so good. Payback is something. It feels good to get it back."
East Oktibbeha 48
MABEN â€“ With East Oktibbeha head coach Barnett Robinson out of town for Saturday's game against Aberdeen at the West Oktibbeha Christmas Classic, assistant Daniel Henderson took over the reins of the Titans.
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While the leader changed, East Oktibbeha's struggles remained.
Aberdeen's Earnest Williams scored 22 points as the Bulldogs dominated the low post to claim the Christmas Classic's boys championship.
"(Aberdeen) has a lot of big boys and that's really what killed us," said East Oktibbeha's Casey Neal who scored a team-high 19 points for the Titans. "They've got height and they know how to use it. The best you can do is just try to box them out, but they're long and nine times out of 10, they'll get it. We just did the best we could."
East Oktibbeha (1-13) finished the Christmas Classic with an 0-3 mark for the event.
All three losses were by double digits and the last two defeats were by exactly 32 points.
The Titans lost 64-51 to host West Oktibbeha on Thursday before falling to West Lowndes 90-58 on Friday.
"I'm not going to put my team down because we've been losing," said Neal. "We'll get on the right track. We've just been playing bigger schools and that's just getting us ready for district."
On Saturday, Aberdeen built a 22-11 lead after just one quarter of play, putting East Oktibbeha in catch-up mode early.
All 11 of East Oktibbeha's first quarter points came from Neal, who says he doesn't feel any added burden during games since he's one of East Oktibbeha's lone holdovers from last year's successful squad.
"I don't really ever feel pressure," said Neal.
There were very few moments to feel anxiety against the Bulldogs.
Aberdeen (10-2) held a 41-22 lead at halftime and stretched the advantage out to 58-32 heading to the fourth quarter to coast to the win.