By JOEL COLEMAN
MABEN – For the most part, Noxapater did a pretty good job of shutting down West Oktibbeha Tuesday night.
Then, there was Kendrin Yates.
The Timberwolves junior put up 36 points to lead West Oktibbeha to a come-from-behind 69-59 win over the Tigers at H.D. Morgan Gymnasium.
"Tonight, I had it going, that's why I stayed on the floor so long," said Yates. "It don't matter (who's covering me), I just try to get mine."
Most of Yates' points came courtesy of a dominating performance in the post.
Regardless of the number of bodies Noxapater head coach Robert Johnson assigned to cover Yates, the Tigers (2-2) couldn't slow down Yates inside.
"(Yates) just has a big body down in the post," said Johnson. "He's an excellent player. He had a lot of offensive rebounds. He had a great shooting percentage tonight. He just worked hard in the post. Anytime a guy works hard in the post, he deserves to get 36 points."
Yates' play was key for West Oktibbeha as the Timberwolves worked to overcome what was a 39-30 deficit after two quarters.
Also keying West Oktibbeha (7-1) was a halftime challenge from Timberwolves head coach Danny Crawford as he urged his team to play better defense.
"My thing is, you should want to fight at home," said Crawford. "I just told them we wasn't fighting here at home and we came out the second half and did a much better job."
Crawford's plea worked.
By the end of the third quarter, West Oktibbeha had closed to within two points at 51-49.
In the fourth, Yates scored his final eight points of the night on four field goals. All four baskets either tied the game or put the Timberwolves ahead.
"He's just a tough kid," said Crawford. "He don't know how good he can be. I just had to make my guys understand, keep giving him the ball. If he's getting it done, keep giving it to him."
While Yates keyed Tuesday night's win, Dantaveous Crawford and Dwight Quinn essentially clinched it.
As time ticked away late in the fourth quarter, Dantaveous Crawford and Quinn sunk four critical free throws each to lock down West Oktibbeha's seventh-straight victory.
Dantaveous Crawford was the only other West Oktibbeha player to score in double-figures as he finished with 15 points.
Still, the night belonged to Yates.
"He's tough on the inside and has improved so much from last year," said Coach Crawford.
Yates says he has bettered his game simply by hard work.
"We hit the weight room hard and coach pushes me every game," said Yates. "I just do my work and listen to coach."
The effort has paid off according to Johnson.
"He was their guy," said Johnson. "He had probably the best game of his career."
Coach Crawford stopped short of calling the performance Yates' best-ever.
Still, the West Oktibbeha head man knows that Yates has plenty of games like Tuesday's left in him.
"When he's got it going, he's got it going," said Coach Crawford.
West Oktibbeha 60,
West Oktibbeha notched its second-straight win by dominating Noxapater.
The Lady Timberwolves (3-5) jumped out to a 20-3 lead after one quarter of play and never looked back.
"We needed this win," said West Oktibbeha head coach Shelia Bailey. "We needed it to get the girls' confidence up. We've started out (the season) kind of slow. Now hopefully we can pick it up."
Brenesha Brownlee scored a game-high 19 points for the Lady Timberwolves.
Jaslynn Bedford added 17, while Brittany Gomes tallied 13.
West Oktibbeha has now won two straight.
Bailey says the winning streak has improved her players' demeanors.
"Now the girls are smiling and don't have any attitudes," said Bailey. "It's all just about coming together as a team. There wasn't any communication on the floor, but now, they're communicating. Hopefully we'll pick things up from here."